David DiRita Discusses Detroit Landmark, David Whitney Building


The most important thing
about historic structures in a city like Detroit is
that they are without question our greatest asset
and I think what Is drawing so much
visitation to Detroit now is that
architectural heritage. The David Whitney
building is probably one of the more
storied properties in the city of Detroit. It was originally
built and completed in 1915 after really
about nine months. It was commissioned
by David C. Whitney and we bought it from a
successor owner in 2011 with the vision of converting
it to a mixed-use property. We took a lot of
photographs of the befores and we thought we would
display those in the building, but the problem
with that building is that they don’t
read like befores. The building has such
inherent beauty that it just looked like a vacant church. I would say of the
total $94 million capital stack just over half
was support by the state and federal tax credit tools. The response to
the redevelopment of the David Whitney
Building sort of exceeded our
wildest imagination. It was so quickly
reembraced by the community. We sold out the apartments
within about a month and they have remained 100%
occupied thereabouts ever since. So, a visitor to the David
Whitney Building now of course sees the original atrium
in its full grandeur, but you also walk
down the hallways on any floor and you’re
really walking through 1915. The corridors are
completely intact where they were intact or
replicated where they weren’t. And we even lined the units
up to the original doorway openings. So, I get a lot of
people who come by and say, “My grandfather
had a dentist office on the tenth floor. I
remember those old mahogany doors, do you still
have those doors?” I said, “I can take you to
your grandfather’s office, it’s just somebody’s home now.” I still have this kind
of shock and amaze like this historical building
came back from the dead.

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