Park Avenue Building

The Park Avenue building in Detroit’s Grand Circus Park was the last of its kind downtown. For nearly 20 years it stood vacant and decaying, owned by a neglectful slum lord, facing an uncertain future.

Like many other downtown buildings, the Park Avenue was built in the early 1920’s as downtown Detroit was reaching the peak of its first construction boom. In January, 1923, as the Detroit Free Press wrote: "To the group of attractive skyscrapers encircling three sides of West Grand Circus park is being added the 12-story Park Avenue building, now nearing completion on the northwest corner of West Adams Avenue and Park Boulevard… Designed by Albert Kahn, architect, the Park Avenue building makes a notable addition to the group, not only because of the effective architectural treatment of its exterior, but because of its handsome interior finish and arrangement embodying the latest ideas of the architect… The ground floor space is laid out to accommodate several small shops, while the floors above are to be arranged to meet the space requirements of office tenants."

"Park avenue, it is said by men observant of the trends of business, is destined to become Detroit’s Fifth avenue, lined with high-class office buildings, shops, and clubs."

Some of the first tenants included Janney-Bowman, a piano dealer; Misses Oppenheimer, a milliner and dress maker; and Straus Brothers, an investment firm.

According to the City of Detroit, the Park Avenue was vacated in the mid to late 1990’s. It was purchased by Ralph Sachs, who bought several other nearby buildings and generally let them fall apart for years. The threat of demolition loomed over the Park Avenue as bricks and other pieces of façade fell off in increasing amounts.

Ralph Sachs died in January of 2017. In September his estate put the Park Avenue up for sale, which was eventually sold to a developer in 2018 for $4.9 million. Cleaning out the building cost as estimated $1 million, with renovations expected to cost between $10 and $15 million. The Park Avenue will feature 75 to 100 apartments, as well as storefronts on the first floor.