Dan Gilbert to breathe new life into long-vacant Free Press building into

Old Detroit Free Press building at 321 W. Lafayette.

The former Detroit Free Press building, an Art Deco high-rise that housed Michigan’s most storied newspaper for 73 years, will be redeveloped with residential units, retail space and offices.

The Albert Kahn-designed building at 321 W. Lafayette has been vacant since 1998, when the newspaper staff moved out.

Dan Gilbert’ Bedrock LLC purchased the building late last year but declined to confirm the purchase.

The Free Press broke the news today that Bedrock purchased the 14-story building to transform it into a mixed-use development. 

Gilbert has not said how much the renovations will cost, but Bedrock hopes to use tax credits that were never used by the former owner.

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Renovations are expected to begin in the spring and take two years. The planned open date is 2019.

“We’re super excited,” Jim Ketai, CEO of Gilbert’s Bedrock LLC real estate arm, told the Free Press. “We’ll put our retail on the first floor as we always do to activate the street. We think the building lays out perfectly to do a combo of office on the first couple of floors and residential above. We think it lays out great for a bunch of apartments. We think it’s literally just the ideal building to do mixed-use.”‘

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All photos by Steve Neavling.

Free Press lobby

Free Press, newspaper, abandoned building, Lafayette, DDI, Albert Kahn
The Free Press building was open to trespass though a broken window.

Black mold is collecting on the walls.
Over the past year, a lot of black mold has collected along the walls.
A lone bear on the first floor.

At the rear of the building.

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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.