Detroit Free Press Building

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Detroit Free Press Building
Detroit Free Press Building 2011 05 08.jpg
General information
Status Complete
Type Commercial offices
Architectural style Art Deco / Art Moderne
Location 321 W. Lafayette Street
Detroit, Michigan
Coordinates 42°19′48″N 83°03′03″W / 42.33°N 83.0508°W / 42.33; -83.0508Coordinates: 42°19′48″N 83°03′03″W / 42.33°N 83.0508°W / 42.33; -83.0508
Construction started 1924
Completed 1925
Roof 57.91 m (190.0 ft)
Technical details
Floor count 14
2 below ground
Lifts/elevators 8
Design and construction
Architect Albert Kahn
Detroit Free Press Building
Part of Detroit Financial District (#09001067)
Significant dates
Designated CP December 14, 2009
Designated MSHS January 8, 1981

The Detroit Free Press Building is an office building designed by Albert Kahn Associates in downtown Detroit, Michigan. Construction began in 1924 and was completed in 1925.

The high-rise building contains 302,400 sq ft (28,090 m2) on 14 above-ground and two basement levels.[4] The building features Art Deco detailing, and is a steel-frame structure faced with limestone. Its design features stepped massing in the central tower and flanking wings. When constructed, the building housed editorial and business offices for the paper as well as printing facilities and rental space.[5] The building is adorned with bas-relief figures, sculpted by Ulysses A. Ricci, symbolizing commerce and communication.[6]

The building, located at 321 West Lafayette, has been unoccupied since the newspaper offices moved in 1998.[7] It was formerly the home of the Detroit Free Press, and while occupied by the newspaper, displayed large neon signs of the newspaper logo on its roof facing north and south. Printing facilities for the newspaper occupied the lower floors of the building until 1979, when a new production facility opened approximately one-mile southwest at 1801 West Jefferson Avenue.[8]

The newspaper offices are now located in the building Albert Kahn designed for The Detroit News at 615 West Lafayette. Because the News Building is only three stories, it is constructed of reinforced concrete and faced with concrete fashioned to look like stone.[9] When Free Press offices moved into the building, they occupied the southern portion and used the address of 600 West Fort Street while The News used its long-time address of 615 West Lafayette. In February 2014, both newspapers announced their intent to move to another facility which would be more suited to their current needs.[10]

Redevelopment Plans[edit]

Several redevelopment plans have been proposed during the time the building has been vacant. To date, none have been successful.

  • In spring 2003, the Detroit Free Press Building was added to a short list of possible sites to replace the Detroit Police Headquarters. Another candidate was the Michigan Central Station, both of which are part of the city's efforts at urban development in Detroit.
  • In February 2009, owners announced that the building would be turned into a sound stage for Motor City Film Works production but set no date for completion of the project.
  • In June 2010, Brownfield Redevelopment Authority approved incentive financing for a deal to remake the Free Press Building into residential apartments with office and retail space.[11]
  • In November 2012, the structure was placed for auction because the owners, Luke Investments, could not agree on a redevelopment plan.[7]
  • The building sold again in September 2013 for approximately $4.15 million.[4] The new owners expect to begin renovations in late 2014 to recreate retail space on the street level and 150 apartments on the upper floors.[12]



  1. ^ Detroit Free Press Building at Emporis
  2. ^ "Detroit Free Press Building". SkyscraperPage. 
  3. ^ Detroit Free Press Building at Structurae
  4. ^ a b Muller, David (11 September 2013). "Former Detroit Free Press building sold for just over $4 million at auction". Retrieved 2014-03-24. 
  5. ^ Eric J. Hill; John Gallagher (2002). AIA Detroit: The American Institute of Architects Guide to Detroit Architecture. Detroit: Wayne State University Press. p. 84. ISBN 0-8143-3120-3. 
  6. ^ Ashlee, Laura Rose (2005). Traveling Through Time: A Guide to Michigan's Historical Markers. Ann Arbor: University of Michigan Press. p. 471. ISBN 0-472-03066-3. 
  7. ^ a b Bomer, Matt (6 November 2012). "Anonymous $1.5 million bid submitted for former Detroit Free Press building". Detroit Free Press. Retrieved 21 June 2013. 
  8. ^ "Detroit RiverFront Conservancy Announces West Riverfront Property Purchase" (Press release). PR Newswire. 3 December 2007. Retrieved 2012-11-06. 
  9. ^ Meyer, Katherine Mattingly and Martin C.P. McElroy with Introduction by W. Hawkins Ferry, Hon A.I.A. (1980). Detroit Architecture A.I.A. Guide Revised Edition. Detroit: Wayne State University Press. ISBN 0-8143-1651-4. 
  10. ^ Briscoe, Tony (19 February 2014). "Detroit News, Free Press may have found new home". The Detroit News. Retrieved 2014-03-24. 
  11. ^ Gallagher, John (June 16, 2010). "Old Free Press building makeover moves ahead". The Detroit Free Press. Retrieved 21 June 2013. 
  12. ^ "Chinese group buys old Detroit Free Press building, David Stott building". WDIV News. 18 October 2013. Retrieved 2014-03-24. 

Further reading[edit]

External links[edit]