Vacant, ornate Metropolitan Building to become hotel in downtown Detroit

The Metropolitan Building, center. By Steve Neavling
The Metropolitan Building, center. By Steve Neavling

By Steve Neavling
Motor City Muckraker

The vacant, 15-story Metropolitan Building, which was at risk of demolition a few years ago, will be converted into an extended-stay hotel with retail on the ground floor.

Metropolitan Building
Photo by Steve Neavling.

The gothic-style building in downtown Detroit has been vacant since the late 1970s and was falling apart and open to trespass for years. In May 2014, debris fell from the neglected building and crashed onto the roof a truck.  

But the building’s negligent owner, the Detroit’s Downtown Development Authority (DDA), found a group of developers interested in redeveloping the Metropolitan with 110 hotel rooms at 33 John R.

Metropolitan Hotel Partners LLC, a joint venture between Detroit-based Means Group and Roxbury Group, plans to rename the building “Element Detroit,” which is part of a larger chain Starwood Hotels and Resorts Worldwide, the Detroit News reports. 

“Element Detroit at the Metropolitan Building is a highly-anticipated addition to the brand’s rapidly growing portfolio and will present travelers with an appealing, new option for short and long stays,” said Allison Reid, senior vice president of North America Development, Starwood Hotels & Resorts Worldwide, Inc.

It’s expected to open in the summer of 2018.

The 91-year-old building was originally used to house jewelry retailers, dealers and manufacturers, according to Historicdetroit.org. It also became known as the Jewelers Building.

Under the ownership of the DDA, the Metropolitan had fallen into disrepair and was regularly open to trespassers, who vandalized the building. Its ornamental facade is covered in graffiti. 

The building’s 14-story neighbor, the Wurlitzer, which also was falling apart, is expected to be transformed into a boutique hotel with retail and restaurant space on the lower floors. 

Steve Neavling

Steve Neavling lives and works in Detroit as an investigative journalist. His stories have uncovered corruption, led to arrests and reforms and prompted FBI investigations.

  • Joeysback

    do we have enough visitors to warrant another hotel? I hope so, but the city of Detroit better offer more activities, and needs to put money into services and neighborhoods!!

  • tml

    Wasn’t it like the building was held hostage vs. being saved? Held hostage badly? Was it known then that the economic crisis faced by the city would be a fertile investment ground for the opportunists? Were the citizens made aware that the waiting period they experienced was for the “greater good of the community”? The ones who lived with declining police and fire service even though they paid their taxes… I have the greatest respect for… not stadiums or racetracks on parks (other societies volunteer here, so much sweat equity not accounted for in the comments)…. nor the people who may have contributed to the area’s decline for commercial gain. Nope, the real gems (not to slight Palmer in any way) are the land holders who viewed their homes as a right not a privilege, and fought against ‘economic ground zero’ to keep their place. And actually lived in them.

  • Harry Palmer

    cool building, always good to see these real “gems” saved.