Hotel Statler: 1000 rooms, 1000 baths
Statler in photos
Abandonment: 1975-2001
October 17, 1975

Hotel sources claim that a bank draft of $10,000 has arrived from Mohammad Faruk Kahn onboard a Pan American World Airways flight. This money is to be used to pay off the Heritage's utility bills and get electric service turned back on. Detroit-Edison denies receiving money or that power will be restored.

Adding to the shuttered hotel's troubles are $139,923 in back taxes owed to the city. This includes $110,323 in real estate taxes and $29,600 in personal property tax from a two year period. The hotel has a deadline of July 1, 1977 to pay off the real estate taxes before the city threatens tax foreclosure.

October 23, 1975

The Statler in 1979The Heritage's closing has left $88.8 million worth of convention hotel room bookings in peril. Fast action on part of the Metropolitan Detroit Convention and Visitors Bureau as well as the cooperation of the Pontchartrain, Sheraton-Cadillac, Howard Johnson's, and the Holiday Inn see that most of this business is kept within the city.

As for the Heritage, Leonard E. Rolston, president of the MDCVB, says "It's too good a property to sit idle."

Meanwhile, William B. Waterman Jr, who claims to represent a "big money" Las Vegas investment group comes forward wishing to buy or lease the Heritage. The group he calls Big Seven Inc. plans to convert at least 50 percent of the hotel's rooms into residences for university students. The remaining 500 rooms would remain hotel rooms. However, Waterman's story doesn't hold as no evidence of the Big Seven Inc. seems to exist nor does evidence of any of the past projects Waterman cites.

November 22, 1975

Mohommad Faruk Kahn's deadline for completing the sale of the Heritage passes with no deal. After weeks of uncertainty the sale falls through.

January-April 1976

Seeking cash with which to pay off the hotel's debts, the Detroit Hilton Limited Partnership hires Content Clearing & Exchange Crop. to sell off the Heritage's contents. Everything from silverware, beds, to paneling is up for sale.

Liquidation saleThe doors open at 10:00 a.m. January 1st and a flood of bargain hunters descend on the hotel. Silverware goes for 20 cents, mattresses for $5, $50 for a complete bed, black and white televisions go for $45, and lamps cost $20. Some more notable items include $5 Statler Hilton dinner plates, an Abe Lincoln plaque donated to the hotel in 1959 by the National Woman's Relief Corps sold to Lincoln collector Art Goupel for $125, and furnishings from Trader Vic's which go for $7,500.

The Detroit-Cadillac Hotel purchases several items, including lobby chandeliers.

Once the small items are gone, paneling is removed from several rooms and sold.

The sale continues until the hotel is empty.

October 17, 1977

With $57,000 remaining in unpaid taxes the city files suit to foreclose on the Heritage. The owners are given 6 months to pay the money or face losing the property.

Detroit Hilton Limited Partnership attorney Fred Gordon states that his group can come up with the money but questions whether the property is worth the taxes. A part owner of the site, Marjorie Fleming states she is not responsible for any of the sum due.

June 25, 1979

The City of Detroit acquires the Heritage following a foreclosure action on back taxes. Total back taxes at this point are estimated at $300,000.

Russell Chambers, who handles real estate matters for the Community and Economic Development Department tells the Detroit Free Press that the Heritage is in "very bad shape." Of the three then closed downtown hotels, Heritage, Tuller, and Fort Shelby, the Heritage is considered the least likely to reopen. Observers state that it was so heavily plundered during the liquidation sale that it would cost to much to re-equip.

Despite the negative observations Ann Arbor developer Richard Berger proposes to transform the former Statler into a hotel named 'Inn on the Park'. However, he backs off and later states that he believes it would not be cost effective to rehab the hotel.
April 14, 1984

Oakland Co. developers Stanley Berger, Craig Smith, Richard Lewiston, and Arnold and Walter Cohen announce plans to convert the Statler into Le Gran Atrium, a 300 unit apartment house.

Apartments will range from studios of 700 square feet to two-bedroom units. Rents are estimated at $350-$725 a month. Also included in the plans is a ground floor restaurant and convenience store. The ballroom floor will become a recreation center with game and exercise rooms, a indoor swimming pool, and a health club. The centerpiece will be a 14 story atrium surrounded by open balconies and covered with a skylight. Southfield architect Victor Shrem designs the renovations.

The project is estimated to cost $13 million. The developers seek a federal Urban Development Action Grant, property tax abatement, and national historic designation for the building.

They are hopeful work can start by October 1984.

January 19, 1985

The Michigan State Housing Development Authority approves a $9.6 million loan for the redevelopment of the Statler into the Le Gran Atrium. However, unforeseen cost have driven the pricetag of the project to $16.3 million. Stanley Berger plans to request an additional $1 million from the MSHDA.

Meanwhile, the group seeks a $2.5 million Urban Development Action Grant through HUD. To receive HUD money, at least 20% of the apartments must be available for low income housing.

Berger states that the remaining $3.2 million will come from private investment.

January 31, 1985
The Statler renovation project is one of two in Detroit that HUD awards grants to. HUD provides $2.5 million.
June 23, 1985

The renovation of the Statler is threatened by proposed changes to the federal tax credit program. If the tax credits are eliminated Stanley Berger says "That would stop our project".

The price of renovation rises again. Now it is estimated to cost $18 million.

October 31, 1985

The price of the renovation again skyrockets. A 400 car parking structure is added to the package which raises the total cost to $25 million. Likewise, the Michigan State Housing Development Authority's stake rises to $19 million from $9.6 million.

Additional changes include a raise in rents to $395 to $1500 a month. Some apartments will be three stories tall and 14 will be handicapped accessible.

Construction is slated to begin by year's end.

October 18, 1986

Work has still not begun on the renovation of the Statler.

The Detroit City Council considers to pump $80 million into several major downtown renovation projects. The Statler project is slated to receive $3 million of that.

April 26, 1988

After 4 years of delays the development team behind the renovation of the Statler announces they have finally secured all the financing and are set to begin construction in the summer.

The project is now termed Atrium Place and will include 334 apartments renting from $495 to $1500 a month.

However, the financing fails to fall into place as hoped.

*** Since this is the last mention I have found of this group's efforts, I assume the Atrium Place project died at this point. ***

December 1988

Awnings on Washington Blvd.With the North American International Auto Show coming to town in January, the Statler and other vacant buildings of Grand Circus Park present an image problem for the city. Riders of the People Mover are treated to grim views of decay. Not wanting out-of-towners, and especially journalist to see this, the Detroit Downtown Development Authority spends $70,000 to install new awnings and window coverings on the Statler and neighboring structures.

These awnings help with appearances but over the years they fade and tatter. Ultimately they worsen the image of the area.

The Statler faces the threat of demolition as both Donald Trump and Don Barden seek to use the site for proposed casinos. Both casino applicants are denied and no other group selects the Washington Blvd. location.
July-August 1999
At the request of the city, the Greater Downtown Partnership holds Request For Proposals for the Statler and nearby Kales Building. The Statler is offered for $100,000 'as is'. The terms are either the hotel's renovation or demolition and replacement by a comparable structure. Bids are due August 6.
August 2000
A $2.5 million state funded cleanup of the Statler site begins. Water which had flooded the basement is removed.
Work progresses on selecting between the RFP bidders and cleaning the site.

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Copyright 2001, David Kohrman
Last updated on 11-14-01