U-Haul and New Center Detroit Revitalization
“We will be a national brand name investing in the New Center community. We will provide a safe, acceptable refuge for urban pioneers as they reenter and secure their new residences and businesses in the area. Our entry will reinforce efforts made by others to stabilize the area.”
- Joe Shoen
CEO, U-Haul International
Revitalization of historic properties across North America has helped enhance and preserve the economic value of properties and their surrounding neighborhoods. Revitalization is often a potent catalyst for economic development, because it builds on the fabric of the local community.
In line with continuing a revitalization strategy introduced in the 1970s, that of buying and repurposing existing buildings to help us serve our do-it-yourself moving and self-storage customers, U-Haul purchased the seven-story NBC-Nabisco building at 899 West Baltimore Avenue in New Center.
Our goal is to provide basic truck- and trailer-rental services this winter. Once revitalization is complete, the facility will feature more than 930 indoor, single-level self-storage rooms, providing more than 62,790 square feet of self-storage. We anticipate that the Detroit revitalization will be completed within a year.
A little history
Built in 1920, this historic seven-story building is the result of the collaboration of Adolphus Green (1843-1917), first chairman of the board and later president of the National Biscuit Company (Nabisco), and his architect, Albert G. Zimmermann (1866-1947). Green wanted factories that would have style and dignity to inspire loyalty from the workers and act as models of modernity to the communities in which they stood.
National corporations were in their ascendancy at the turn of the century and architectural uniformity was a new concept for the time. The Nabisco buildings were different from the common manufacturing buildings of the World War I era. Each of the new plants included showers and locker rooms for the employees as well as fireproof stairways and other up-to-the-minute fireproofing techniques.
The factories were twice published in the American Architect magazine in 1912 and 1916 for their trendsetting fire-safety measures including the steel framing and fireproof tiling, and their use of 1-1/2” maple flooring and architectural embellishments above and beyond the normal requirements for factory buildings.