Detroit’s Wurlitzer Building has come a long way from 2011, when its crumbling cornice sent a 50-pound chunk of terracotta crashing through the roof of the loft apartment next door.
That was then. Now the Wurlitzer, at 1509 Broadway, is stabilized and midway through a $23 million renovation to convert the 14-story, 1926 structure by architect Robert Finn into a 106-room, upscale boutique hotel to be called The Siren.
The developers, ASH NYC from Brooklyn, New York, are looking toward a “soft opening” this fall, perhaps November, and a grand opening once all seven food-and-beverage outlets are in place.
Included in that list will be Albena, an eight-seat “tasting counter” run by Garrett Lipar, chef at Ferndale’s late Torino, and a 2016 James Beard semifinalist for Rising Star Chef of the Year.
A full-service, all-day restaurant on the Siren’s second floor is slated to open sometime late this year or early next.
“That will be run by a well-known Detroit restauranteur,” promised Ari S. Heckman, the firm’s 34-year-old CEO, “but I can’t say who at this point.”
The Siren’s 11,000-square-foot lobby also will reportedly feature a coffee shop and the round Candy Bar, with mixology by Dorothy Elizabeth of the Standby, the cool establishment a block away in The Belt alleyway.
Heckman promises that three additional food outlets, as yet unidentified, will open next year in the front and rear of the hotel, as well as, most intriguingly, on the rooftop.
Also in the plans is a Social Club Barbershop by Sebastian Jackson, and a “Pot & Box” flower shop and gift store.
Rooms will start at $165 a night.
On Wednesday, Heckman and the ASH staff hosted a cocktail party and sit-down, candlelit dinner for 80 in the lobby to introduce members of Detroit’s artistic and business communities to the project.
Why was a development company in Williamsburg, Brooklyn, interested in a crumbling landmark on a Detroit side street?
Like so many outsiders, Heckman says he was unexpectedly seduced by the look and feel of Detroit on his first visit four years ago.
“I sort of fell in love with Detroit,” he said. “I realized then that I wanted to do a hotel here.”
Heckman compares Detroit to Providence, Rhode Island, where the firm renovated a historic building into a hotel called The Dean, calling both cities “slightly misunderstood” by the outside world.
He adds that he was struck at the time by the fact that hotel options in Detroit were mostly limited to national franchises.
“I wanted to create a space that felt like Detroit,” Heckman said, “that both visitors and locals would enjoy. I want to show off the best of Detroit to the outside world.”