Archives for November 2014

Voices of Detroit: A Visit by Mary Sheffield

The El Moore, a residential apartment complex that is designed to be a model of urban sustainable living, is located on the 600 block of West Alexandrine, which is considered part of the Midtown area of Detroit. The El Moore, and its affiliated project, the Green Garage, a model of an urban sustainable work environment, are both located in the City Council District 5. Over 60% of the owners of the more than 50 businesses-in-residence at the Green Garage are also residents of District 5. After decades of having all Detroit City Council members elected “at-large”, the voters chose to return to most City Council members being chosen by districts; 7 of the 9 members of the legislative body of the city now represent a distinct geographical area. The El Moore Team at the Green Garage … [Read more...]

The Greenhouse – Using Our Past to Build Our Future (podcast)

This episode of our podcast series Stories of the El Moore shares the stories about the new Greenhouse building at the El Moore project in Detroit.  It is part of a larger project to explore the nature of sustainable urban living centered on an 1898 abandoned apartment building in a small neighborhood in Detroit.  It describes how our future is being built from materials of our past.  Covering the specific steps used  to design a "new" building using reclaimed materials for other buildings being torn down or deconstructed  in Detroit.  We also share how the design of the Greenhouse was part of creating a more walkable neighborhood.  This was recorded in front of a live audience at the Green Garage in Detroit.  Thanks to all who attended and support our … [Read more...]

Rescuer of the Railings – Tom Delaney

Tom Delaney is no stranger to the El Moore. The local real estate professional first become aware of the building during an Urban Land Institute tour of Midtown back in 2005. He became more intimately acquainted with it a few years later, during an auction of some of the building's contents, when he found himself in a bidding war over the fate of the beautiful, cast iron railings that originally graced the El Moore's balconies. Tom prevailed and won the bid, and for his efforts, he was able to take home an integral part of a building he describes as one of the most beautiful he has ever seen, with the hope that one day, the railings would be returned to their original grandeur. (At the time, that took some imagining; the El Moore had been vacant for years and the beauty of the elegant, … [Read more...]

Voices of Detroit: British Detroit

The El Moore, a historic apartment building erected in 1898 and located on the corner of 2nd Avenue and West Alexandrine, is a sustainable urban living reconstruction project slated to open in the spring of 2015. The El Moore itself is a story of Detroit; one of many stories about our city, from the past and up to today. This blog post, part of a series called “The Voices of Detroit”, relates how the 18th- and 19th-century European control of this area, first by the French, and then by the British, shaped the City as we know it today. During the 2nd half of the 18th century, the French and the British were battling for control of the mouth of the St. Lawrence River. The British were in control of the area now known as New England, and the French controlled areas in southern and eastern … [Read more...]

Construction Update – Week of November 10, 2014

We're starting to see more dramatic, finished changes to the El Moore. The biggest addition this week was the pouring of the parking lot (just in time before the freezing weather set in!). In the greenhouse, a new stone base wraps around the exterior, taken from sandstone curbs that had been removed from nearby Prentis Street. A new brick floor was begun in the greenhouse's interior. Work continued on the sandstone fence posts that will support the fence around the perimeter of the building. On top of the roofs of the cabins, final touches were made to the solar panel frames. The beautiful balconies of the El Moore had been damaged prior to our ownership of the building, and needed to be replaced. Just as we were searching for matching material, we heard that the First Unitarian Church … [Read more...]

Rooftop Cabins – What were you guys thinking?

The Rooftop Cabins, perched atop the historic El Moore building, may be the most creative and controversial element of our renovation project.  In Episode 1 of our podcast collection, "Stories of the El Moore," we explain the series of decisions that led to the current design of the Rooftop Cabins, even how they got their name.  We cover all this from a triple bottom-line viewpoint...that is, addressing economic, community and environmental needs.  We are continually trying to find the innovative balance between all of them.   Take a listen, let us know what you think.             … [Read more...]

The Gathering

When we speak of community as being one of our triple bottom line margins for the El Moore project, to be clear we are including the people who already have a relationship with the El Moore because of their proximity to the El Moore site – our neighbors. What exactly is the best way to get to know your neighbors? Turns out the same holds true for a building project as it does for any individual family - you invite them over! And having something to snack on is usually a good idea. So that is what we had an opportunity to do on Oct 18. Just as when you are having guests, you usually have to tidy things up a bit, get your invites out…etc. To help with getting the word out we called on Kevin Gardner, a designer at the Green Garage, to first design us a unique sign to explain our mystery … [Read more...]

Mr. Varney’s Neighborhood

As we've mentioned in earlier posts, the El Moore was designed in 1898 by local architect Almon Clother Varney.  Besides being an authority on gracious living in late 19th century Detroit (see Our Homes and Their Adornments , 1883), Varney was a prolific architect.  His creations, which included apartment buildings, factories and offices, hotels and private residences, popped up all over the city as well as in towns and cities across the state.  Interestingly, Varney is credited with designing the very first apartment building in Detroit, the Varney Apartments at Park and Montcalm (The building was, sadly, razed in 1996).  Although some Varney buildings have not survived to present day, many of them, like the El Moore, are, happily, with us still! With that in mind, this week the Green … [Read more...]