Stand on the corner of Kerrytown in front of Zingerman's in downtown Ann Arbor on a cold, clear night and shimmering in the not-so-far-away distance is the newly renovated Key Bank Building.
Renovations of the historic structure, about 100 years old depending on the source, are set to conclude by the end of March. The more than $2 million invested in the building will refurbish it inside and out. Its exterior and common areas are being restored to their historical splendor while the 55,000 square feet of office space inside is being updated and upgraded to Class A space.
"It's an attempt to upgrade the building and capture its historical significance," says Michael Quinn, principal architect for the renovation with Ann Arbor-based Quinn Evans/Architects.
Quinn Evans has done extensive work in historic preservation. Its portfolio includes big projects such as the State Capitol Building in Lansing and the Wayne County Building in Detroit, along with smaller ones, like the façade improvement on Conor O'Neill's Irish Pub in downtown Ann Arbor and The Inn on Ferry Street in Midtown Detroit. The firm's work concentrates on finding a way to make historical properties standout while still finding their rightful place among their surroundings.
"We believe that a vibrant downtown is one that can celebrate its new and old architecture," Quinn says.
The Key Bank Building, originally named the Glazier Building, falls somewhere in between those. It's not as well-known regionally as the State Capitol or Wayne County Building, but the seven-story structure is one Ann Arbor's landmark structures. It's also the city's first skyscraper, proudly standing above the city's banking center at Main and Huron streets.
Over the years, the building's original decorative cornice was removed while numerous other ornamental flourishes were covered or lost. This latest renovation restores those enhancements, paying special attention to the cornice. That important piece of the puzzle was put back to original position and is highlighted by energy efficient lights at night.
"It captures the importance of the corner well," Quinn says.
The building's lobby and elevators were restored to original status, utilizing marble and replicated historical ornamentation. Those areas were also modernized so they work as efficiently as comparable equipment in new structures.
A new roof, thick insulation and upgrades to heating and cooling systems were added to make the building more energy efficient. The office space has been modernized and is expected to be fully leased by this summer. The building serves as the regional headquarters for Key Bank, and houses the Ann Arbor Area Chamber of Commerce. The second floor is still available for lease, but the developer, Ann Arbor-based Dahlman Properties, is in negotiations to sign a tenant for that space.
The developer and the architect decided to go with a thorough historic restoration of the building to give it an edge in a competitive market. The restoration, eligible for a 20 percent federal tax credit, gives the building a unique "WOW" factor. That curb appeal is a significant component in separating the structure from the pack of bland and uninspiring competitors.
"It now has landmark status," Quinn says. "That provides a good draw for us."
Good enough even to make it stand out on a cold night.
Source: Mike Quinn, principal architect for the renovation of the Glazer Building
Writer: Jon Zemke