Wednesday, February 18, 2015

"Restarting Motor City"

This morning on my favorite news show, CBS This Morning, they did an interesting piece on investing in Detroit.  If you would like to see the segment, please click on the link below.  If you haven't seen CBS This Morning, it's definitely worth a watch as well.  I think they do the best job on TV in presenting the news in an intelligent and non-sensationalist manner.  In addition, Charlie Rose, Gayle and Nora make a great team.  While we're on the topic of CBS, an all time favorite is CBS Sunday morning.  Best newsmagazine show in my opinion and it's on at 9 a.m. every Sunday morning .....since 1979.

Monday, February 16, 2015

"Paris of the Midwest"

Hearts and Motors/ Winter Wright

While some choose Paris or NYC for a Valentine getaway, or Miami or Palm Springs for a mid-winter break, we opted for the Midwest winter vacation capital of Detroit.  It is actually a pretty fascinating city, has some magnificent pockets, and boasts three Frank Lloyd Wright homes....which were perfectly set in their snowy landscapes over the weekend.  A self guided tour of four Detroit neighborhoods yielded some great residential architecture finds.  We stopped for lunch in Bloomfield Hills before visiting the FLW houses and had a wonderful time at Bill's.  It has a Ralph Lauren vibe, excellent food, and we would highly recommend it if you are in the area.  The afternoon was capped off with a visit to Cranbrook campus, the museum and an exhibition of Andy Warhol album covers.

Turkel House, c. 1955

Palmer House, c. 1952
(Palmer House is available to rent with a min. 2 night stay)

Affleck House, c. 1940

Detroit Residential Neighborhoods

Bill's in Bloomfield Hills

Cranbrook Campus and Museum

The Best Exotic Airport Hotel

If you check out Detroit, The Dearborn Inn, just outside the city limits, is a great place to stay.  Conceived by Henry Ford and designed by Albert Kahn, it opened in 1931 as a hotel for travelers on the short-lived Ford Airlines.  The Ford airport opened in 1924 in Dearborn and closed two years after the inn (which was the first airport hotel in the world) was built.  The inn is a beautiful little historic gem that has gracefully stood the test of time.  An old oil of old Mr. Ford still watches over the lobby, with a companion portrait of his wife Clara across the fairly grand....(especially for an "airport hotel") 

Downtown Detroit is not Dead

We spent a day exploring downtown Detroit, and there have been lots of positive changes since the last time I was there ten years ago.  All you really read about today is the urban decay and the death of the city.  While the social and economic issues are definitely apparent, the investments in small business, arts and culture are also apparent and encouraging.  The hotel we stayed in on our last night opened a month ago after a massive restoration and conversion project.  We passed lots of new restaurants and businesses, lots of cranes and building restorations in progress, a new Whole Foods and a sign for a John Varvatos opening in the spring.  We tried a few of the new restaurants and our most enthusiastic reco. would be The Selden Standard.  It opened four months ago and has already been voted number one in several publications.  With all the changes, there are still lots of abandoned buildings and lots of questions about how best to move the city forward.  It seemed like the monumental Michigan Central Station had a new life on the horizon recently, but plans were scrapped because of the monumental cost for a restoration.  If your interest is peaked and at some point you decide to check out the Motor City, I would be happy to give you more information and advice regarding a visit.  We still have lots that we didn't get to see and hope not to wait ten more years for our next trip.  

David Whitney Building hotel conversion; Daniel Burnham. c.1915


Guardian Building; Wirt C. Rowland, c. 1929

Fisher Building; Graven and Mayger, c. 1928

Fox Theater; C. Howard Crane, c.1928

The Fillmore Theater; C. Howard Crane, c. 1925

Motown first headquarters; purchased by Berry Gordy in 1959

"John Varvatos opening spring 2015"

Works in Progress

The abandoned Michigan Central Station; Warren and Wetmore, c. 1914

The Selden Standard before and after a recent restoration and conversion

One of our four delicious choices (not including desserts and wines) was the duck sausage!