February 22, 2014 at 3:19 pm

Landmark building undergoes renovations for new tenants, which may be Detroit's newspapers and partnership

The main lobby of the Federal Reserve building which maybe the new home for The Detroit News and Detroit Free Press. (Max Ortiz / The Detroit News)

Detroit — The landmark downtown building that may be the future home of The Detroit News, Free Press and Detroit Media Partnership has undergone a thorough renovation by its new owners and now awaits major tenants.

The former Federal Reserve Bank at 160 W. Fort Street, empty for eight years, now has a spacious new lobby with lighted marble columns. In one portion, the former windows for gun turrets have become part of the shiny metallic mezzanine wall. Other details: the original smaller building constructed in 1927 has been gutted and fitted with new glass doors awaiting a restaurant or another retailer.

The other portion of the building is a glass-and-marble addition designed by famed architect Minoru Yamasaki. In the basement, the huge steel doors of the old vaults are part of the decor. On the fourth floor, the architectural firm Rossetti has created an open work space with an outdoor patio.

The rest of the floors, except the basement, in the eight-story Yamasaki addition are currently empty. On Wednesday, it was announced the major tenant of the building could be the 500 employees that make up the Detroit Media Partnership, the Detroit News and Free Press.

“Our office space will be like new when we move in — custom-designed to meet our needs, and equipped with all new furnishings,”said Joyce Jenereaux, president of the partnership, in email statement sent out Wednesday.

The business agency of Detroit’s two major newspapers announced Wednesday night that it is working on a long-term lease to move the newsrooms into the former Federal Reserve after a 13-month search. It all goes as planned, the move would take place by the end of September. But a lease has not been signed.

In January 2012, the Federal Reserve building was bought by the real estate arm connected to Dan Gilbert, founder and chairman of Detroit-based Quicken Loans, Inc. Gilbert’s Rock Ventures owns about 40 downtown properties, encompassing 8 million square feet, including parking structures, according to the company.

The media partnership announced in January 2013 it planned to move to accommodate a larger online audience with the dailies’ e-Editions, videos and other content for computers and tablets as well as mobile devices.

The 141-year-old News has occupied its address at 615 W. Lafayette since 1917, when the Albert Kahn-designed facility opened. The Detroit Media Partnership was formed in 1989 and joined The News in its building. In 1998, the Free Press left its old quarters, a few blocks east, and moved into separate space in The News building.

“This building has really served us well, but we’ve outgrown the building in that it is not designed for our digital needs,” Jenereaux said.

The Detroit branch of the Federal Reserve Bank of Chicago left the building downtown in 2004, relocating to Warren Avenue near Eastern Market.

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Beautiful and open areas are found at the Rossetti marketing firm on the ... (Max Ortiz / The Detroit News)
A view from the mezzanine level of the Federal Reserve building in ... (Max Ortiz / The Detroit News)
The Federal Reserve building as seen from Fort Street in downtown Detroit . (Max Ortiz / The Detroit News)