Restoring Detroit’s Skyline

Sep 11, 2013

the two towers shot from the ground

Restoring Detroit’s Skyline

Located across the street from one another, the David Broderick Tower and David Whitney Building, two of the tallest unoccupied buildings in America, were twin symbols of Detroit’s decline. Yet today, with the Broderick Tower fully occupied and an ambitious renovation of the Whitney Building underway, they are symbols of the city’s rebirth.

The Broderick Tower, built in 1928, was once one of Detroit’s most magnificent structures. Along with the 98-year-old Whitney Building, one of only three surviving buildings designed by Daniel H. Burnham, the Tower served as a gateway to downtown. Both structures were left vacant after the mass migration of businesses to the suburbs in the 1980s. “They were a part not just of Detroit’s history, but a part of American history,” said David Di Rita, a member of Whitney Partners, the group leading the restoration.

Whitney Partners knew any rehabilitation project involving these two buildings would be a massive undertaking and the downturn in the economy only made matters worse. Several attempts to redevelop the buildings as residential properties went nowhere; financing was difficult to secure. It was then that Bank of America stepped up to offer its expertise.

The financing for both buildings involved a complicated series of public-private partnerships. The $53 million in financing for the Broderick Tower was provided by Bank of America, which got involved in 2008, along with Invest Detroit, Chase Bank and the Michigan Historic Preservation Network. “They saw the vision,” said Michael Higgins, a member of Whitney partners and longtime owner of the Tower.

It was 2010 when JC Beal Construction broke ground on the renovation of the 34-story Broderick Tower. The project, completed in 2012, created 127 market-rate rental units and more than 20,000 square feet of commercial space. It also created 150 temporary and 75 permanent jobs, and was quickly occupied.

Financing for the $82 million renovation of the Whitney Building was structured and underwritten by Bank of America. That project was even more complicated, said Matt Elliott, Bank of America’s Michigan President. “On this one, we kind of put the band back together and added a horn section,” he said.

Construction on the Whitney Building began in March 2013. By July 2014, the 19-floor building is expected to be converted into an Aloft boutique hotel with 135 hotel rooms, 105 residential apartments, and ground-level retail, including restaurants, a transit station and a bar.

The renovation of the Building and Tower are fulfilling the promise made during their development nearly a century ago; to make Grant Circus Park a hub of Detroit. “There’s a story of hope here,” said Elliot. “There’s a story about possibility, about what can happen now that we’re in sort of a post-industrial situation. We can’t have a strong Michigan without a strong Detroit.”

Join the conversation: See how we’re connecting with our customers, clients, and communities on the Bank of America Facebook page and on Twitter at @BofA_Community.

Detroit Skyline Shot
Relighting the Skyline

The Broderick Tower, built in 1928, along with the 98-year-old Whitney Building use to serve as a gateway to downtown Detroit.

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Broderick and Whitney shot side by side
Relighting the Skyline

In the 1980s, both structures were left vacant after the mass migration of businesses to the suburbs.

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David Rita and Matthew Elliott
Relighting the Skyline

Several attempts to redevelop the buildings as residential properties went nowhere until Bank of America stepped up to offer its expertise.

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arch/light shot (from Broderick shots)
Relighting the Skyline

After decades of attempts, JC Beal Construction began renovations of the 34-story Broderick Tower in 2010 and completed the project in 2012.

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welder shot (from Whitney selects)
Relighting the Skyline

Financing for the $82 million renovation of the Whitney Building was structured and underwritten by Bank of America.

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image of David Rita with Map
Relighting the Skyline

Transforming the Whitney Building into a boutique hotel and apartment complex began in March 2013 with an expected completion date of July 2014.

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Broderick and Whitney with blue sky background
Relighting the Skyline

The renovation of the Building and Tower are once again making Grant Circus Park a hub of Detroit.

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They were a part not just of Detroit’s history, but a part of American history

David Di Rita
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