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EXCLUSIVE: Aretha Franklin Developing '5-Star' Entertainment Complex In Downtown Detroit

DETROIT (WWJ) - Detroit's "Queen of Soul" could be forming a duet of sorts with billionaire businessman Dan Gilbert.

In an exclusive interview with WWJ's Vickie Thomas, Aretha Franklin said she's about to get her hands dirty and become a part of the city's revival.

"I'm just glad that Detroit came through the bankruptcy with flying colors and I love that the city is enjoying a renaissance now, and I'm going to be part of that renaissance," she said. "I've been downtown with Dan Gilbert's people and I've found a location for myself, so stay tuned. A lot of good stuff coming up."

Franklin said she's developing an entertainment complex like Motown has never seen before.

"My interest is a combination venue which would be a five-star night club for dining and dancing, the band, the whole nine yards, a museum and something like L'Esprit, the disco," she said. "L'Esprit was it!"

Her whole idea is to bring back the "good ol' days" of Detroit.

"We don't have any discos and we don't have any real fine dining and adult venues, I would say. For adults, we just don't have it so I'm going to try to bring it," she said.

And Franklin isn't waiting around either. She plans to have the whole thing up and running within a year.

"I'm going to try to interest my record company in backing it or I'm also interested in something that General Motors was interested in back in '85 and that was the Pink Cadillac," she said. "They wanted to do a disco then, so I'll see if we can renew that interest."

Franklin in is town this weekend for a concert with The Isley Brothers at Chene Park. It's her first performance at the riverside amphitheater.

"Last year, they did ask me and we negotiated but we were not able to finalize it. So, they came back again this year and here I am," she said.

Franklin said fans who show up to Saturday's concert are in for quite a treat.

"We've got to do something special in the D," she said. "If I tell you what it is now, it won't be a surprise. So come on out and you'll see. We're going rock, rock, rock at Chene Park."

Tickets for the performance range from $46 to $150. For more information or to buy tickets, visit

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