Tuesday, June 27, 2006


$180 million renovation of famed Book-Cadillac Hotel announced today in Detroit

After two years of public speculation, late night communications and conference calls that on one occasion involved more than three dozen people on the line simultaneously, Cleveland-based developer John Ferchill publicly announced today that his firm, The Ferchill Group, had closed on a $180 million financing package that will be used to renovate Detroit's historic Book-Cadillac Hotel into a luxury hotel with condominiums.

A life-size model of the renovated Book-Cadillac

Calling it "a historic day for the new Detroit", Ferchill served as Master of Ceremonies at tonight's Book-Cadillac Preview Event, where about 230 people and a handful of local media gathered for the long-awaited announcement, which included the unveiling of several artist renderings of the building's planned interior and a life-size model of the proposed exterior.

Along with Ferchill, Detroit Mayor-Kwame Kilpatrick, Michigan Governor-Jennifer Granholm and four other individuals pertinent to the deal's funding took turns expressing thanks and heralding the impact that the future project will have on the city's continued revitalization efforts.

An artist's rendition of the Book-Cadillac's new Italian Garden

The Ferchill Group - whose firm was responsible for developing the 198-room Hilton Garden Inn hotel in Detroit's central business district - thanked many of the people and organizations involved in the complex financing package, composed of 22 different funding sources.

The city of Detroit, Wayne County, Detroit's Downtown Development Authority, National City Bank, Starwood Hotels and Resorts Worldwide Inc., Meijer, Inc., and the Michigan Magnet Fund are just some of the project's capital supporters.

Kwame Kilpatrick, Jennifer Granholm and Joe Galvan, Regional Director of HUD - Chicago, at Tuesday's Book-Cadillac announcement

In what is being describing as Detroit's biggest and most significant project since the opening of the Fox Theatre in 1988, the planned renovation of the 33-story Louis Kamper-designed building calls for 455 four-star luxury hotel rooms -- each containing 42" flat-screen televisions, high-speed cable and wireless internet access -- as well as 67 luxury condominiums.

There was no word on what fees for the future hotel rooms, but material provided by The Ferchill Group place the starting price of the condominiums between $250,000 and upwards of $1 million, dependant on floor plans and other factors.

An artist's rendition of the new Crystal Ballroom

Guests of the renovated Book-Cadillac will enjoy valet parking, a state-of-the-art fitness center, on-site doorman, indoor heated pool and whirlpool, 24-hour room service and a host of other amenities, including on-site retail stores, 39,000-square feet of meeting space, a nationally-known steakhouse, a sports bar and a coffee bar.

Along with full access to all hotel amenities, residents of the condominiums - which will be located on the top eight floors of the building - will be treated to a private entrance and elevator and will have access to a private skywalk that will run between the garage and the entrance to the condominium area of the building.

The Ferchill Group has retained Esquire Properties, a real estate brokerage firm located in Detroit, as the exclusive sales and marketing firm for the Residences of the Book-Cadillac.

Jon Grabowski, President of Esquire, believes that the redevelopment of the Book-Cadillac is the most important reconstruction project the city of Detroit has ever seen.

"As a firm founded in Detroit, Esquire Properties is proudly bearing the weight of delivering the city’s most important redevelopment project to the public. The people of Detroit will use the renaissance of the Book-Cadillac as the foundation...that the city has now turned the corner."

Construction on both elements of the project are expected to begin immediately.

The estimated grand opening of the Book-Cadillac Hotel and Condominiums is the summer of 2008.

For more information on The Ferchill Group, please visit www.ferchillgroup.com.

For inquiries or information about condominiums in the new Book-Cadillac, please contact Esquire Properties at 313.580.2200.

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Thursday, June 22, 2006

Jefferson East Festival Highlights the Weekend

Jazzin' brings music, fun to East Jefferson District this weekend

It's officially summer, and we here in Detroit know what that means: time for sun, fun - and, of course - festivals!

As Michigan's most populous city, Detroit is no stranger to big-time street fairs.

In the first weeks of June, we've got the Detroit Festival of the Arts - a free, weekend-long affair that honors the city's fine and performing arts. In late June/early July, thousands flock to New Center for the Comerica TasteFest, a five-day, outdoor food and entertainment extravaganza.

Detroit International Jazz Fest, featuring local and national jazz musicians, is Motown's Labor Day-weekend tradition, and, shortly after that, it's time for Dally in the Alley - Midtown's end-of-summer, day-long block party.

But that's not all.

It may only be a few years old, but
Jazzin' on Jefferson (JOJ) - a free, four-block street fair celebrating East Jefferson's jazz and blues heritage - is an up-and-comer that's successfully filled the mid-June void in the city's summer-fest lineup, as evidenced by the substantial increase in attendance from 2004 to 2005.

That's good news for the Jefferson East Business Association (JEBA), the non-profit organization credited with creating and planning the annual event, since the festival's popularity helps JEBA reach its vision of fostering a viable and vibrant business district.

Considering JOJ's mainstay attraction - two stages that will serve as platforms for jazz and blues musicians like Eddie Burns, Thornetta Davis, the Gratitude Steel Band and the John Paxton Trio - it's no wonder JOJ has garnered the attention it has in just two years.

While he can't promise that this year's festival - which runs part of the day on Friday and all day on Saturday - won't be crowded, festival director-Chris Garland says there are several new and exciting changes in store for JOJ 2006:

"The most significant difference this year is that we've expanded the festival from one to two days," says Garland. "That gives anyone that can't make it on Saturday a chance to come out and enjoy the event on Friday evening."

In addition to that upgrade, Garland points out that along with the music stages located on either end of the event, JOJ 2006 will also have an arts stage featuring dance, poetry readings and other non-musical performances.

"We did the art stage last year and it was really popular...so we decided to bring it back again."

Many of the same merchants, about 50 in all, will be back again selling goods and services, too.

There will also be plenty of appetizing cuisine from area restaurants like Angel Wings & Ribs and Big Boy, as well as typical festival food such as elephant ears, french fries, chips and lemonade. Atwater Block Brewery is set to provide water and beer.

Garland notes that there's no shortage of activities for kids at the festival, either, thanks to local businesses and organizations like Pewabic Pottery, Matrix Theatre Company and the Cube Gallery, who are scheduled to provide educational activities for youngsters.

"There's really something for everyone at this event," he says.

Jazzin' on Jefferson, which will encompass the four-block radius from Chalmers to Alter, runs from 4:00 - 10:30 pm on Friday, June 23, and from noon - 10:30 on Saturday, June 24.

Shuttle service to and from the event will be available at the western edge of the festival near the intersection of Jefferson and Chalmers.

For more information, scheduled performance times or to view pictures of last year's event, please visit the Jazzin' on Jefferson website.

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Detroit kicks off summer season with all-day party

Doors Open Detroit and 4th Fridays

This Friday, June 23, Downtown Detroit is opening its doors to the public – literally.

Join dozens of area residents and Metro Detroit businesses as they converge on Campus Martius Park for Doors Open Detroit (DOD) and 4th Fridays with Ford, two city-based initiatives that are sure to get you geared up for summertime in the D.

Whether you’re a long-time resident or just moved to the Motor City last week, Doors Open Detroit, which runs this Friday from 11 am - 3 pm, is your ticket to the best local activities in Detroit. Stick around for a mid-afternoon party at the park, followed by an evening highlighting nightlife in the D.

Doors Open Detroit
Sponsored in part by the Tourism and Economic Development Council (TEDC), a branch of the Detroit Metro Convention & Visitors Bureau (DMCVB), Doors Open Detroit is an all-day attractions fair showcasing the best to see and do in the city.

Attendees have the opportunity to gain discounted admission prices to many local events, activities and restaurants, as well as plan area day-trips and excursions in one fell swoop. A mini artists and food market, along with live music, makes Doors Open Detroit the perfect time to get out and explore all that Detroit has to offer.

After filling up your summer schedule at DOD, don't wonder off too far; 4th Fridays with Ford, a new monthly summertime celebration featuring local restaurants, bars and clubs, galleries, shopping and live music, kicks off at 7 pm.

In Between Time
Although Fourth Friday's events don't get started until after dinnertime, Detroit's popular online publication,
Model D, is throwing a party in honor of its one-year anniversary from 4 - 6 in Campus Martius Park. DJs Liz Copeland and Clark Warner, along with Odu Afrobeat Orchestra, will entertain you with sounds that'll get you dancin' in the streets.

Along with happy hour entertainment and a community resource tent, City Living Detroit - an organization that provides a variety of resources for those interested in living in the D - will host a residential expo on North Woodward adjacent to Campus Martius Park from 4 -9 pm. The mini artist and food markets also go on until 9.

4th Fridays
4th Fridays, which runs from 7 pm - midnight, will give visitors the chance to check out Detroit nightlife by participating in four fabulous activities, each detailed here:

-Avenue of the Arts, a project by
Edgewise, aims to fill up empty storefronts along south Woodward Avenue with works by a montage of Detroit's most creative and crafty citizens. Artists for the event include Rachel DeLux and Ed Gardiner, the creators of Edgewise, as well as photographer Paul Von Schadd, James Dozier, Carl Oxley III, Tracy Brown, Bryant Tillman, JD Davis, Rick Lieder, Dave Lingle and Marica Henne. Maps with self-guided walking tours of the event will be on hand to guide and direct visitors.

-The 4th Friday Film Festival at the Biegas Gallery will give residents the chance to see - you guessed it - four films, each involving local talent. (Side note: this is the spot to Checking In: The Story of the Book Cadillac Hotel). The mini-film showcase, put on by Detroit-based Thought Collide, the Mitten Movie Project and Prince Igor Productions, begins at 9 pm.

-Get the low-down on new downtown developments with Inside Detroit, which will offer tours of buildings and other locations in the Central Business District.

-Check out neighborhood open houses in Grand Circus Park, Harmonie Park, Campus Martius and the Financial District and get discounted entertainment and dining while you're at it.

In addition to all of this, the Chicago Blues Reunion, the headline musical act of the evening, will take to the stage at 7 pm, filling CMP with the sounds of jazz and blues.

After Thoughts
If you're not ready to go home when the clock strikes twelve, head over to Cliff Bells for an after-party put on by Edgewise and Model D. Those 21 and over are invited to enjoy live jazz music and a meet and greet with the Edgewise artists. Cover to the event is $5.

4th Fridays is a collaborative event by the Detroit 300 Conservancy, Campus Martius Park and the Tourism Economic Development Council. Program partners include Edgewise, Inside Detroit, Model D Media, Prince Igor Productions and Detroit Synergy.

For street closings, directions and a detailed schedule of this Friday's activities, please click here.

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Sunday, June 18, 2006

Check out 'Checking In'

Last July, I posted about local-Renaissance Man Frank Nemecek, writer/director of Checking In: The Story of the Book-Cadillac Hotel, a documentary film that examines the history and grandeur of one of downtown Detroit's most famous landmarks.

Inside the Book-Cadillac

The film - screened publicly this month at places like the Detroit Film Center (DFC) in early June and the Planet Ant Film Festival last weekend - will be shown again this Friday as part of downtown's first Fourth-Friday event (more on the kick-off of Fourth-Fridays, which promises to be a spectacular event, later this week) so if you've yet to check out the film, here's your chance:

Checking In plays at downtown Detroit's
Biegas Gallery at 9 pm this Friday, June 23.

Be there or be square -- this will likely be the documentary's final public screening in the Detroit area.

For more information on the film, see this post from July 2005 or visit Nemecek's website, Prince Igor Productions.

Biegas Gallery is located at 35 East Grand River in downtown Detroit.

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