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RIP

January 7, 2009

from the Detroit News. 

This building is/was cool and should headline the rebirth of Detroit. I hope it re-opens soon. Would make great lofts and the lobby is so cool and 4 stories but hidden over a drywall ceiling…please save it

Book Building closure stirs memories

BY BILL MCGRAW • MOTOR CITY JOURNAL • JANUARY 6, 2009

The Book Building — for more than 90 years a Washington Boulevard landmark — is empty and essentially shut down.

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The final tenant, the popular Bookies Downtown Tavern, had its last call Monday at 2 a.m. It was crowded, and some people got emotional. 

“It’s sad to watch another building close,” said John Lambrecht, Bookies’ owner. “It’s a gorgeous building.” 

The 36-story tower, which opened in 1926, sits adjacent to a 13-story building that opened in 1917.

The Book’s closure comes just weeks after the renovated Westin Book-Cadillac opened to rave reviews just a block away. Also nearby, the Doubletree Guest Suites Ft. Shelby, another refurbished gem, opened last month.

The building has been caught in a downward spiral for the past several years, as a succession of owners let maintenance lapse and angered tenants, who dwindled from a few dozen to a handful.

“It has been a nightmare,” said John Paljushaj, who ran Zef’s Coney Island in the Book lobby until last week.

The current owner, the Canada-based AKNO Enterprises, could not be reached.

John Austerberry, a spokesman for DTE Energy, said power will be cut off Thursday unless the utility reaches an agreement with the owner over its $87,000 past-due bill.

George Ellenwood, of the Detroit Water and Sewerage Department, said water also will be cut off in the coming days unless something is done on AKNO’s $18,593 bill.

Lambrecht said the Book already is deteriorating.

“It doesn’t take long for a building to go downhill when it’s empty,” he said.

The Book is named after the Book family, a famous Detroit clan of the early 20th Century. Architect Louis Kamper designed its facade in the Italian Renaissance style that includes elaborate ornamentation and half-naked stone sylphs. 

For Lambrecht, the closing is bittersweet. He didn’t want to close his bar, but he has been working on a new establishment, Bookies Bar and Grill, which will open in the next month in a renovated building at Cass and Columbia — three floors, a full kitchen and, for the nice weather, a rooftop deck.

“It will be a huge upgrade for us,” Lambrecht said.

Contact BILL McGRAW at bmcgraw@freepress.com.

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