Monday, April 18, 2011

Class Dismissed! Old Cass Tech High School meets the wrecking ball

Following in the footsteps of so many iconic Detroit buildings, demolition of the Old Cass Tech High School is in full swing. Walls of the graffiti-covered, broken-windowed hulk of a building on the north side of I-75 at Cass Avenue remain, but if you want to get one last look, you best get downtown by mid-summer.

No one's ever accused us at The Times of snubbing Detroit's great, historic buildings. We took no joy in watching Tiger Stadium nor the Lafayette Building tumble to the ground.

But the most unfortunate truth regarding Old Cass Tech is that its greatest feat in recent years has been to stand there and block the view of the beautiful building that is the New Cass Tech from drivers on I-75. That ain't real productive.

It's a shame that the building's condition was allowed to deteriorate as it did, and even more a shame that people didn't clamor to find a viable use for it until it was too late. But if removing the building opens up new possibilities to make the New Cass Tech an even better campus, maybe it can still be a change for the better.

Thursday, April 7, 2011

Holiday Inn Express & Suites returning to downtown Detroit

Just call it the Holiday Inn-And-Out-And-Back-Inn.

It was just in January when we reported that the Holiday Inn Express & Suites signage was removed from the facade of the building on Washington and Michigan avenues in downtown Detroit.

Now, just a few months later, new temporary Holiday Inn Express & Suites signage hangs from the hotel's awning, which prompted our news hounds to wander in and ask the lobby host, "What's up?" (That's a professional interrogation technique we learned in journalism school.)

He did in fact confirm that the hotel would again be called Holiday Inn Express & Suites within the next couple of weeks, but couldn't offer up any explanation for the strange chain of name-changing events.

So we took our research efforts to Google, but after 30 seconds of relentless tracking, we realized that the "why" in this case really isn't all that interesting. Maybe they were just changing their signs from blue to green. Or maybe Holiday Inn altered the standards it demands of hotels using its name. Or maybe (and I think this theory has some merit) just maybe the national chain didn't want to run the risk of hosting Charlie Sheen and his gang while they were in town.

Wednesday, April 6, 2011

Clooney film 'Ides of March' works its magic in Detroit's Capitol Park

Not long ago, crews filming 'Transformers 3' set up shop in Capitol Park in downtown Detroit. The brief resurrection of the Farwell Building was something to see.

Before that, the remake of 'Red Dawn' filmed just down the street, while Faye Dunaway's 'Master Class' was a few blocks away in Grand Circus Park.

So when George Clooney and crew were in town last week filming scenes for 'Ides of March' in Capitol Park, it seemed fair to wonder whether another filming season in downtown Detroit was just getting underway, or if Clooney's production would mark the end of a short-lived era.

Politicians, movie industry contractors, and just about everybody in the state continue to debate whether Michigan's generous tax incentives are in fact overly generous, or rather a clever way to entice Hollywood to spend money in Michigan. Does spending millions to bring in production crews have enough payoff? Or are do we just like star-gazing?

It's a fun discussion, and if I had a vote, I'd likely fall somewhere in the middle, hopeful that a sensible but enticing package of incentives can be created to continue attracting movie-makers without giving away the bank. Provided the price tag isn't too high, there's no doubt a benefit to being the host site of so many film crews.

If nothing else, it's keeping things interesting in Capitol Park.

Friday, April 1, 2011

Mysterious red-brick cat finds a home near old Tiger Stadium

What do you think, is this a salute to the baseball stadium that once stood across the freeway?

A crosstown homage to Bricktown?

Who knows what it is? I've got no info on this cool brick sculpture I spotted across the freeway from the old Tiger Stadium, but it definitely seemed worth posting.

Just a few feet off the I-75 southbound service drive, not far from Trumbull, somebody used a pile of old red bricks to create what looks like a cat sitting in the ground. It's an odd place to create a work of art, but what the hell, at times Detroit can be an odd place.

If anybody knows anything about the Brick Cat - Who built it? Why? - let us know.