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The Foundation Hotel, A $28 Million Boutique Property, Opens In Detroit's Historic Former Fire Department HQ

The Foundation Hotel, A $28 Million Boutique Property, Opens In Detroit's Historic Former Fire Department HQ

A merger of the architecture of the former Detroit Fire Department Headquarters, the work of local artists and a restaurant with a Michelin-starred executive chef has opened in the form of the Foundation Hotel.

The redevelopment plans for the boutique 100-room property, a $28 million project of the Chicago-based Aparium Hotel Group, date to 2012 — prior to Detroit’s bankruptcy filing and much of the downtown investment that’s visible today.

“We’re almost an anti-brand,” Amber Rose Powers, the hotel’s lifestyle and programming director, told Benzinga. “We’re bringing ourselves by the locals. We go to underserved markets.” The Aparium Group’s other properties include The Iron Horse Hotel in Milwaukee, Pontchartrain Hotel in New Orleans and Madison Hotel in Memphis. The Foundation Hotel was completed in partnership with Southfield, Michigan-based developer Walter Cohen.

Image Credit: Amber Rose Powers, the lifestyle and programming director at the boutique Foundation Hotel in downtown Detroit, on a patio at the property. "We want to showcase what was here," Rose Powers says of the historic buildings used in the hotel's development. Photo by Dustin Blitchok.

Rooms in the Foundation Hotel start range from $199 to $409 a night at the time of writing.

A Modern Take On A Historic Space

A step through the red firehouse doors at the Foundation Hotel shows a modern space with frequent nods to the building’s past, such as the original subway tile behind the bar and mid-20th century books from the fire department on view under glass.

The hotel is at Larned Street and Washington Avenue in downtown Detroit, directly across from Cobo Center, which hosts the North American International Auto Show each January.

Image Credit: "Detroit Fire Department Headquarters" By Andrew Jameson (Own work) via Wikimedia Commons

“We want to showcase what was here,” Powers said of the hotel’s design, which she describes as a modern take on a historic space. The Commissioner Room, a guest room where Detroit’s fire commissioner once lived, is nearly 1,000 square feet.

The interior design was done by the Simeone Deary Design Group, and the architect was McIntosh Poris Associates.

The Apparatus Room, the restaurant led by executive chef Thomas Lents, is located in the space where fire trucks once parked. Lents comes to Detroit from Sixteen, a restaurant located in Chicago’s Trump Tower that was awarded two Michelin stars.

A Battle Creek native, Lents “wanted to be in Detroit,” Powers said.

“For him, this is a place of cultural expression. He wants to express his art here in Detroit, as well as train others.”

The Detroit Fire Department headquarters were constructed in 1929, while the neighboring Ponchartrain Wine Cellars building dates to the late 1800s, Powers said.

The two buildings, both of which are five floors tall, were combined to form the Foundation Hotel. The transition between the two brick buildings was left visible to guests who are walking through.

Overhead, in the space where fire hoses once were, is “Cumulus,” a lighting fixture by College for Creative Studies professor and artist Kim Harty.

An ‘Experiential’ Hotel

Four bicycles from Detroit BikesSlow Roll editions with Foundation Hotel logos painted on — are available for guests to use free of charge.

Image Credit: The rock band Eagles of Death Metal recorded a podcast May 15 in the studio at Detroit's Foundation Hotel. Photo courtesy of Amber Rose Powers.

The hotel’s amenities include event and meeting spaces and a studio space that was used for a podcast by the visiting rock band Eagles of Death Metal on May 15, the first day the hotel was open.

Guests can connect with services such as a hair salon and tailor, and the hotel is partnering with businesses such as the Detroit Body Garage, a West Village gym that will begin hosting fitness classes at the hotel in June.

“This is an experiential hotel,” Powers said.

Related Links:

MoGo, Detroit's Public Bike Share System, Goes Online

Detroit Startup Uses Reclaimed Wood To Build Guitars: 'I Want People To Feel Like They're Playing A Cadillac'


Main Image Credit: Amber Sun works behind the bar at the Apparatus Room, the restaurant inside the Foundation Hotel in downtown Detroit that's led by Michelin-starred executive chef Thomas Lents. Photo by Dustin Blitchok.


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