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DETROIT-A year and a half after Ferchill Group gained complicated financing for its $180-million renovation and restoration of the Book Cadillac Hotel, the developer says it hopes to open the property this year, a facility that has been shuttered since 1984. John Ferchill, president of the firm, tells GlobeSt.com that he hopes to get the 455-room Westin and 67 condominiums open by October.

The 33-story hotel, a historic Detroit landmark, opened in 1924, and was frequented by the elite of that time, including the Beatles, Elvis, Martin Luther King Jr., Frank Sinatra and Presidents Herbert Hoover, Franklin Roosevelt and John F. Kennedy. However, after the Depression and deterioration, it closed in 1984, and many redevelopment plans died on the table. Ferchill, which already built a successful new Hilton Garden Inn in Downtown Detroit, has 22 layers of financing from a variety of public and private capital sources for the Book Cadillac redo.

Ferchill says if anything, he was probably fortunate to have achieved financing before that subprime housing downfall. However the uniqueness of the property has garnered attention, he says. “The construction is going fine, and sales went well, we’ve sold 51 of the 67 units at an average price of $500,000 a unit. It’s been remarkable, our sales projections have been exceeded. We’re now searching for another project here, we’ve got some targeted but it’s not all buttoned up,” Ferchill says.

He says he hopes to open the building by the end of October, and will pick a firm date next month, though Starwood Hotels has the opening date listed as Nov. 1 on its website. “We’ve also been able to attract a world-class restaurant that will take up about 8,000 sf,” Ferchill says.

Downtown Detroit has had a number of openings announced lately, including the three 400-room hotels with the new casino properties, and the $82-million renovation of the Pick-Fort hotel into a DoubleTree, also expected to open by the end of the year. Local hospitality experts agree that there will be glut of new rooms, which could cause a problem in a market that’s only 60% occupied now. However, optimists say that Detroit is making a comeback, with a large-scale redevelopment of the riverfront, suburban companies planning moves into the city and a proposed $323-million expansion of Cobo Hall Convention Center.

“Things do seem to be going along fine Downtown, though a lot of projects are slowing down,” Ferchill says. “I don’t think the casino hotels will affect us much, they’re pretty much catering to their customers, and I don’t think you’ll see more hotel development. The Cobo expansion is a terrific idea, it should reenergize the area. It should be good for the whole town.”

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