Tuesday, December 14, 2010

The latest redevelopment plans for the old Free Press Building

Add this to the list of "cool doorways in Detroit that nobody ever walks through."

Hopefully, that will change in the coming years. The old Free Press Building on Lafayette has been empty since the Detroit Free Press moved down the street in the late 1980s. Peak through the street-level windows and you can still see evidence of its previous tenants.

Reports now are saying that a company called Free Press Holdings, LLC out of Florida is hoping to redevelop the building, with multi-million-dollar plans that call for creating retail space at the street level, commercial space on the second floor, and apartments in floors 3 through 13. The top 14th floor would feature a health club and conference space, and the below-ground floors, where the newspaper's printing equipment once lived, would be converted into a parking garage.

While we take this as good news, we contain our excitement, especially given other recent development plans concerning the old Free Press Building. Last year around this time, the rumor mill was churning out news that it was being targeted as the future home of Motor City Film Works. But then months passed and nothing changed at 321 W. Lafayette Boulevard (even though the Motor City Film Works website still lists that as its home address). Don't get us wrong, the old Free Press Building is one of our favorite unused buildings downtown, and we're pulling for a plan that will bring it back to life. It's not likely that work will begin any time real soon, but we'll keep our eyes peeled for the firsts signs of (re)development.