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DETROIT-An abandoned Downtown residential hotel has been named one of 11 Most Endangered Historic Places by the National Trust for Historic Preservation. The Madison-Lenox Hotel, on the corner of Madison Avenue and Randolph Street, is the only location in Michigan named to the annual list.

Detroit’s prominent Ilitch family, which has extensive property holdings in the area around the Madison-Lenox, wants to demolish the old building to make way for parking for several nearby attractions, also owned by the family’s company, Ilitch Holdings. Ilitch Holdings also owns the hotel and has applied for permission to demolish it, but has been denied twice by the Detroit Historic District Commission. Ilitch Holdings also owns the Fox Theatre, Comerica Park, Hockeytown Cafe and other entertainment venues in the city.

“What the Motor City needs is more preservation, not another parking lot,” says Richard Moe, president of the National Trust. “Historic preservation is a powerful tool for accomplishing Downtown revitalization. Detroit has already seen preservation’s effectiveness firsthand in a number of successful projects, such as the Rose and Robert Skillman Branch of the Detroit Public Library, the Inn on Ferry Street and the growing number of historic buildings slated for conversion to downtown residential use. A reuse strategy for the Madison-Lenox could help bring livability and economic vitality back to the inner-city area.”

The Madison-Lenox Hotel was constructed during the early part of the 20th century and is located a block away from, both Harmonie Park and Grand Circus Park. The three-building complex — including the eight-story Madison, built in 1900; an adjacent two-story restaurant; and the Lenox, built in 1903 — is significant in its design and construction, the Trust notes. After years of decline, the surrounding Harmonie-Park Historic District is now experiencing considerable revitalization, it adds.

According to the Trust, the Friends of the Book-Cadillac Hotel, a non-profit Detroit organization dedicated to the rehabilitation of Downtown landmarks, is fighting to save the buildings and has developed an adaptive reuse strategy. If restored, the Trust says, the Madison-Lenox could serve as a gateway for nearby Harmonie Park, the Theatre District, Comerica Park and Ford Field, Music Hall, and Greektown. It could provide hotel and/or residential space, a restaurant, meeting rooms, offices and local arts-related uses and would be a great asset to the city of Detroit, Moe says.

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