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Dan Gilbert buys Book Tower


The 89-year-old Book Tower has a new owner … Dan Gilbert.

His Bedrock Real Estate Services now owns the historic 38-story Book Tower, the attached 13-story Book Building and an adjacent two-story community center in downtown Detroit. The three buildings span an entire city block between Grand River Avenue and State Streep and total approximately 517,000 square feet. They are located at 1265, 1249 and 1201 Washington Boulevard.

Bedrock plans to transform the buildings into a mixed-use development that it says will “bring jobs, energy and new life to these properties while expanding revitalization efforts further west of Woodward Avenue to Washington Boulevard.”


“This project is going to be one of the most exciting redevelopments in our entire Detroit real estate portfolio,” said Dan Gilbert, founding partner, Bedrock Real Estate Services. “We will bring this beautiful, world-class iconic landmark back to life in a manner that will make all Detroiters and visitors proud. We can’t wait to get started.”

“She’s one of a kind. Some might even say beautiful in its ugliness,” says Historic Detroit. “No skyscraper in Detroit, let alone the Midwest, looks quite like the Book Tower on Washington Boulevard. It’s a rather awkward-looking building, whether you look at its unusual maze of an external fire escape or the intricate, over-the-top details on its crown that are tough to appreciate without a pair of binoculars. It’s an undeniably unique piece of the city’s skyline and a rare breed of classical Renaissance-style architecture and skyscraper. As an added bonus, joined at its hip is one of the city’s oldest surviving office buildings.”

Dating back to 1926, the historic Book Tower was designed by Louis Kamper, one of Detroit’s most noted 20th century architects, who designed the building in the Italian Renaissance. It has an ornate, copper roof, Corinthian columns, carved figures and other intricate details.

Kamper also designed the Book Cadillac Hotel.

The buildings were named for the Book brothers, J. Burgess, Frank and Herbert, real estate entrepreneurs and developers who had a vision to turn Washington Boulevard into a popular and fashionable destination.

“Nearly 100 years later, Bedrock is pursuing a similar vision for all of downtown Detroit by making significant investments into restoring historic properties such as these and filling them up with a new innovative and unique mix of retail, office and residential tenants,” said Jim Ketai, Managing Partner and CEO of Bedrock. “With each acquisition and each new tenant we are proud to continue our momentum and commitment to rebuilding Detroit.”

Here the building details: 

  • Book Tower –1265 Washington Boulevard, 38 floors, 241,000 square feet
  • Book Building – 1249 Washington Boulevard, 13 floors, 246,000 square feet
  • Community Center – 1201 Washington Boulevard, 2 floors, 30,000 square feet

Total: 517,000 square feet

Bedrock now owns and manages more than 80 properties in Detroit’s technology-centric downtown, totaling more than 13 million square feet.

For a good history lesson on the Book Tower and Book Building, check out Historic Detroit.

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