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, ornate railings was somewhat obscured by a pretty serious accumulation of pigeon poop.)

After a thorough cleaning, the railings ended up in the second stall of Tom’s garage, where they remained for several years before he started considering using them as architectural accent features in some other properties. But just a few months ago, after learning about our ongoing rehabilitation of the building, Tom generously decided to donate the railings back to the El Moore with the stipulation that they be used only for their original purpose. (Read the whole story in an earlier post by Jason Peet.) Well, of course this was a great find for the El Moore, and very much in keeping with the vision for the building.

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Tom (left) & Jason Peet of the El Moore team with the railings

Tom’s extraordinary generosity has made it possible to restore one of the most distinctive and beautiful features of the El Moore, a feature we otherwise would have had to recreate. When I asked him why he was willing to donate the railings to the project, he responded “It’s where they belong! They are a part of Detroit!” He went on to explain his belief that whether we live in the suburbs or in the city, we are defined by our urban core; this is “our community,” each of us being both a part of the problem and the solution to anything that the city faces.  In terms of development, we are all better served if we think long-term rather than short term. It seems that Tom has been thinking about sustainability for a long time – to all of our benefit!

Insights

  1. Tenacity is at times necessary
  2. See the beauty, despite the poop
  3. We are all part of the problem and the solution
  4. Think beyond yourself

El Moore