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Source: Detroit News 2004
More entertainment on tap for Midtown Old Garden Theatre on Woodward to be renovated by 2005 By R.J. King / The Detroit News DETROIT -- A music club, restaurants, stores and more than 100 residential lofts are planned in the Midtown District, host of this weekends Detroit Festival of the Arts. Since 2001, more than $1 billion has been invested or planned in Detroits Midtown area, home to some of the regions most noted icons including the Detroit Institute of Arts, Detroit Science Center and Wayne State University. The district is bounded by Interstate 94 and the Lodge, and Fisher and Chrysler freeways.
In recent weeks, the former Garden Theatre on Woodward, located just north of the nearly completed Max M. Fisher Music Center, was purchased by Woodward E Ventures LLC in Detroit for an undisclosed sum. The investment group plans to renovate the two-story structure into an entertainment venue. "The outside of the Garden Theatre will be restored, but the interior has suffered severe deterioration and will likely need new finishes," said Conrad Schewe, senior associate of Zachary and Associates Inc., a planning firm in Midtown and a consultant on the theater project. Work on the redevelopment is expected to be completed in 2005. Woodward E Ventures also holds an option to purchase the former Blue Moon restaurant at Woodward and Alexandrine, Schewe said. If the group does purchase the two-story eatery, it will be renovated into a bar and restaurant.
The developments would complement the Max M. Fisher Music Center, a $60 million expansion of Orchestra Hall, home to the Detroit Symphony Orchestra. In other news, Detroit developer Jim Wickenheiser has purchased the vacant Hotel Eddystone on Park, near Interstate 75. The 14-story building will be renovated into 60 condominiums and ground-floor retail space, Wickenheiser said. Wickenheiser, partner of Hotel Eddystone Group LLC, also is renovating the Carola Building and the former Carlton Hotel in Brush Park into more than 50 loft condominiums.
Source: Cinema Treasures
The Garden Theatre, one of C. Howard Crane's earliest neighborhood theaters in Detroit, opened in 1912, and could seat a little over 900. It was one of the largest theaters built outside downtown at the time. Its auditorium featured, as the name implies, garden-style decoration, giving patrons the feeling of being outside amidst fake vines and birds. It originally hosted both live stage shows and motion pictures, though later the live performances were dropped.
The Garden was closed in 1949, but in the 50s, was used as a nightclub. In the 60s, as the so-called Cass Corridor, along Woodward Avenue, where the theater was located, declined, so did the Garden. By then, it had reopened as an adults-only theater, called the Peek-A-Rama. It was later renamed the Sassy Cat. Its neighbors included a strip club and a pornographic book store.
The Sassy Cat is now closed, and the Cass Corridor is in the midst of a massive gentrification, with coffee houses, bookstores and luxury apartment buildings displacing the more sleazier businesses of the 70s,80s and early 90s. There is now a chance that the Sassy Cat, with its Beaux-Arts facade still relatively intact, could be included in the wave of renewal that has swept up the neighborhood.