Inside the Abandoned Lee Plaza Hotel: Detroit, Michigan
Wow...this place was really somethin' in its day...and local companies and residents are doing what they can to bring it back.
Built in 1928 and named after Detroit city developer Ralph Lee, Lee Plaza was actually more of an upscale apartment building which featured hotel services. Oddly, not long after it was built, Lee was in a hurry to sell it...and it was purchased by the Detroit Investment Company. Wonder what the hurry was?
This was quite the place in its day: it had 15 stories with 220 apartments with one to four rooms, a ballroom, beauty parlor, two dining rooms, children's playroom, game room, grocer, two lounges, and a meat market. According to Historic Detroit, “the main hallway was dubbed 'Peacock Alley,' a barrel-vaulted space with coffered ceiling covered in a rich color scheme of blues, golds and greens.”
Well, the Depression hit and by 1935 – even though Lee didn't own it anymore - Lee and the hotel itself both went bankrupt. More owners came and went. The question as to ownership kept it in court until 1943. By that time – right smack into World War II, the glamour of luxury apartment living faded in comparison to what the world's problems were. Residents moved out. Transient renters moved in.
In 1968 the Plaza was now a nursing home for senior citizens.
It's status earned Lee Plaza a place on the U.S. Register of Historic Places in 1981; even so, this was followed by the loss of many residents throughout the 1980s. When it closed for good in 1997, it laid abandoned for twenty five years.
In 2015, a $200 million redevelopment was announced.
In 2016, it was announced that the renovation plan was dead.
In 2018, three more proposals were made that all fell flat.
In 2019, the city of Detroit announced the sale of Lee Plaza for $350,000.
In 2022, renovation finally began...slowly, but beginning on the bottom floor, it seems to be getting done in a year-by-year process.
The photos below show you what it looked like after 25 years of deterioration and just before renovation began...
Abandoned Lee Plaza, Detroit
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