Tag Archives: Grosse Pointe

The Secrets of Grosse Pointe

The Secrets of Grosse Pointe

New Urbanism on the Lakefront

We often use the term New Urbanism to describe the cohesive designs of towns such as Wellesley and Edgartown – both here in Massachusetts – where housing and shopping are in close proximity. To our west, in the state of Michigan, is the enclave of Grosse Pointe, another area that beautifully exemplifies the principles of New Urbanism in its walkable, human-scaled villages.

Grosse Pointe is an affluent coastal region approximately 8 miles east of Detroit comprised of five adjacent Pointes – Grosse Pointe City (often called “the village”), Grosse Pointe Park, Grosse Pointe Farms, Grosse Pointe Woods and Grosse Pointe Shores. Researchers with the Grosse Pointe Historical Society believe “what was once Grosse Pointe Township began dividing into different municipalities because of a dispute over alcohol.” Today, each community is closely linked to the other and shares the common, natural amenity of Lake St. Claire, a 26-mile lake that lies between Ontario and the US where residents can enjoy season-long boating.

Grosse Pointe began as a farming and hunting community where each farmer owned approximately 300 feet of water footage. To ensure the water was easily accessible both for drinking and transportation, most homes were built on the waterfront, which resulted in neighboring houses set fairly close together. As Detroit continued to prosper, Grosse Pointe grew to be the city’s foremost summer resort area. Soon after, with the invention of the railway and the automobile, Grosse Pointe became Detroit’s premier commutable, wealthy suburb – rivaling the Gold Coast of Long Island.

Edsel & Eleanor Ford House

Architects like Hugh T. Keyes who “designed grand estates for the great and wealthy of Detroit” built magnificent homes for the automotive elite. Edsel and Eleanor Ford built the largest of these Grosse Pointe estates known today as the Edsel & Eleanor Ford House. Edsel (the son of Henry Ford) hired architect Albert Kahn to build their Cotswold style home in 1929 after traveling with him to England to study the local vernacular. The home stands today as a national historic landmark and is open to the public for visitors. In addition to these great estates, the burgeoning community needed places for socializing. Clubs such as the Grosse Pointe Yacht Club, which was founded in 1914 and we recently had the pleasure of designing their new sailing center, and The Country Club of Detroit, a Tudor Revival built in 1897, remain some of the region’s most prominent buildings.

Today, Grosse Pointe’s architecture is both new and old and is predominantly Tudor, Dutch Colonial, and Neo-Georgian. Wide lawns and full canopy tree-lined streets add to the towns’ timeless aesthetic. The towns are pedestrian friendly – sidewalks are set well off of the streets and bike trails abound. Neighborhoods are designed with walkability in mind and village scaled commercial nodes make shopping easily accessible.

We are frequently asked what regions we are drawn to and what areas we believe hold significant architectural potential. Grosse Pointe is a location that does both. We are drawn to its history and sense of community and believe there is wonderful architectural potential in the village areas. For instance, introducing residential apartments above storefronts or sensitively restoring and updating smaller homes would allow additional housing options for current residents who wish to downsize but stay in the community. With the exciting renaissance happening in Detroit, Grosse Pointe holds significant allure and potential as one of the great examples of New Urbanism today.

Hotel Provençal

Our Proposal for Hotel Provençal in Grosse Pointe, MI


The opportunity to create the “Hotel Provençal” extends beyond just adding a wonderful hotel within the Grosse Pointe community. Hotel Provençal will act as a catalyst for a truly memorable and authentic focal point and public space for everyone to enjoy.  This new addition within the Village will have a sense of place, it will be rich in tradition, and include elements of delight such as the ice skating rink and reflecting pool, an outdoor tree-lined plaza with year round food kiosks, specialty retail shops with push carts filled with flowers and gelato stands, and a rich outdoor cafe all within a park-like setting.  This space to be created is as important as the hotel itself in completing this block of pedestrian scaled activities, year round, day and night, seven days a week.  Local businesses with be able to thrive even further, and the Hotel Provençal will partner with other businesses within the Village for a holistic and synergistic approach to community and commerce. This project will be monumental for Grosse Pointe, and its success will be felt by everyone  in  the community.

As part of our vision for the development site, we took into careful consideration the emphasis the City of Grosse Pointe places on the rich history of the surrounding neighborhoods. We feel that as part of the success of this development, the project cannot be just a hotel. To drive demand for a hotel, there must be a draw to Grosse Pointe in the first place. In order to create something that will be sustainable through all economic cycles, we have diversified the site and create more of a mixed-use development than simply a stand-alone hotel. We have created a plan which allows each piece of the project to work individually, while still creating synergies. Through components of retail, apartment, condominium, and hotel, we will ensure that the entire project is a wild success for our community of Grosse Pointe.

The Site

The project includes two buildings – the Hotel Provençal and the Hotel Provençal Annex – and a new Linear Park. Use this map as a point of reference when exploring the remainder of the project.


Hotel Provençal

The four-story Hotel Provençal will feature 75 rooms, all designed elegantly and uniquely with a variety of layout and space plans and multiple options for banquet spaces ranging from 1,400 sf to 6,000 sf for weddings and other events. On the first floor, there will be an additional 4,000 square feet of new retail including Vineyard Vines, Shinola, Roasting Plant, Intelligentsia, Commonwealth, and Sweet Green.

The Hotel is designed in a U-shape to create an open courtyard as a way to welcome not only hotel guests but all residents of Grosse Pointe. The courtyard will feature outdoor seating surrounding a reflecting pond to provide opportunities to enjoy coffee and free WiFi or socialize with family in friends – opportunities that currently do not exist in Grosse Pointe. The courtyard will host live music, food trucks, push carts, artists, and flower vendors in the summer months. During the winter, the reflecting pond will be used as a public ice skating rink.

01_Hotel Provencal -Site Plan -Phase-I

03_Hotel Provencal -A-Right Side
04_Hotel Provencal -A-Rear
05_Hotel Provencal -A-Left Side


Hotel Provençal Annex

Across the street from the hotel will be a newly constructed four-story parking deck with over 400 new parking spaces to be used by the City for this new development, as well as for existing traffic. In order to conceal the parking deck from the street and make the most use of sidewalk space, there will be two “bookends” with retail and apartments fronting both St. Clair and Notre Dame. These bookends will include 9,000 square feet of newly constructed white-box retail space. Here we have targeted more fast casual restaurants as well as retail for the community. We have already engaged in discussions with the brokers representing Lululemon, Soul Cycle, J Crew, Walgreens, Chipotle, and a few other boutique eateries.

Above the first floor of retail space, will be roughly 30-40 newly constructed apartments with sizes ranging from 700 to 1,100 square feet. There is an extreme shortage in the Grosse Pointe communities for rental options for millennials at a price point of $1300 to $1800. Our development will create an environment that is attractive for a younger generation, who instead of moving away after college, can work in Downtown Detroit but still live in our community.


07_Hotel Provencal -Parking Structure-A-Front
08_Hotel Provencal -Parking Structure-A-North-Side
09_Hotel Provencal -Parking Structure-A-Rear
10_Hotel Provencal -Parking Structure-A-Side


The Linear Parks

Our design embraces the character and charm of the City of Grosse Pointe and enhances the public realm through its urban design amenities and details. We are grateful to have the opportunity to create this unique hotel and “Linear Parks” for the public and surrounding businesses to use year round. Our team would like to thank the City of Grosse Pointe for the opportunity to enhance the quality of life for a place close to our hearts.