DETROIT (WWJ) - An ambitious Detroit businessman thinks he has a bombshell idea for transforming the empty lot where old Tiger Stadium used to be.
After many failed plans from other developers, Francois DeMonique told WWJ City Beat Reporter Vickie Thomas he wants to see the site at Michigan Avenue and Trumbull transformed into a unique hotel and entertainment complex that showcases African food and culture.
"I love this city and I believe in this city. I've put a lot of effort into it and my company, which is Urban Café Corporation, we are dedicated to being a part of the new face of Detroit. This may be just the first African-American development built from the ground up," he said.
DeMonique's vision for Urban Café Detroit is one where visitors can stay in a hotel, attend a live concert, have a fancy dinner and dance the night away all under one roof without having to drive to separate destinations.
"We're anticipating the Old Tiger Stadium site, but there are other options and sites that we are currently in negotiation with, private enterprises and private owners," he said.
The look of the building would be aesthetically pleasing, DeMonique said. He said the facility will influence the city's skyline and "lift the spirits of Detroit's residents and visitors."
DeMonique, who's been working on the project since 2009, said the complex would focus on "celebrating the positives of many nations around the world" from the perspectives of art, dance, music, cuisines and the other aspects. He described the venue as being "the place to be for locals and a must-see establishment for tourists."
The hotel would feature a 200-seat upscale restaurant, full-service bar, candy store, exercise room, spa, hair salon and a business center. The third through seventh floors would have 20 suites per floor, each featuring a theme-specific decor designed around the unique cultures of various African countries. DeMonique said the designs and concepts will cover all 100 suites, showcasing different countries of Africa and the Caribbean.
The complex would also feature a multi-purpose theater with 1,500 seats, which can be used for conventions, weddings, concerts, graduations and proms, among other things. DeMonique said the food will be mostly all-American bistro with a "Rain Forest Café" vibe.
DeMonique, who was born in West Africa, said he regards the venture as an effort to reach out to an entire community by sharing African-American culture, cuisines and other heritages in all their variety. Although the complex will be urban focused, DeMonique said patrons of all backgrounds will be welcomed and embraced.
Urban Café Detroit is projected to draw a quarter of a million patrons annually for the first five years of operation, DeMonique said.
The project has a price tag of $75 million to $100 million.
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