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Demolition of former Met Hotel makes way for major Troy site redevelopment

The vacant Met Hotel in Troy is being demolished to free up some of the city's most prime real estate for redevelopment.

A 17.43-acre property at Crooks Road and I-75 described by a Troy official as "borderline blight" has sat since the Met Hotel and Lakes restaurant on the site closed in 2016 around a transfer of ownership.

Now progress on the site is widely visible, with major structural demolition work started in December and expected to finish this spring.

An entity registered to Mohammad Qazi, CEO of Southfield-based Ciena Healthcare, bought the site at 5498 Crooks Road in early 2016 for $10 million, according to a First American Financial Corp. property report and CoStar Group Inc.

The shape of the incoming development hasn't yet been determined, representatives of property owner Prime Land Holdings LLC told Crain's. The entity is registered to Qazi with the state and not a project of Ciena Healthcare.

"It's one of the most important sites for redevelopment in the city," Troy City Manager Mark Miller said. "It's a great site and it's borderline blight. We get most of our revenue from property tax, so we want redevelopment." 

Glenn Lapin, economic development specialist for the city of Troy, added that the city looks forward to the building coming down and freeing up the property for new use.

Discussions have occurred with some potential end users and decisions are expected this year, according to the two Prime Land Holdings representatives: real estate firm Colliers International's Senior Vice President Gregory Bockart and Executive Vice President John Fricke.

They've had conversations or seen interest in the realms of health care, and mixed-use including hotels or high-end residential, Fricke said. They expect decisions on tenants to be made this year.

"For north Troy ... there's nothing, really, with that kind of exposure and easy access for I-75," Bockart said.

On the gap between the purchase and commencement of major demolition work, he said: "My client bought it with the intention of personally developing the site and was more focused on some of his other projects ..."

Bockart said major, visible demolition began in December, but work on the process started around six to seven months ago.

The cost of demolition is to be determined. Birmingham-based Amson Nassar Development is overseeing demolition through several subcontractors, according to CEO and President Fadi Nassar.

"They're taking it down back to front and piece by piece," Lapin of the city of Troy said. "The whole lot is fenced in and secured."

Qazi is not the first to plan a redevelopment of the site. The parcel and hotel's previous owner, Laguna Beach, Calif.-based New California Hotel Corp. and associated entities, announced plans in 2013 to create a new retail and entertainment development there. Those plans were never realized.

Qazi recently made news in Detroit for purchasing a prominent, 3.78-acre piece of Midtown real estate by Whole Foods Market for $15 million.

The C-shaped, nearly 200,000-square-foot Met Hotel — which Bockart called "functionally obsolete" and small for the nearly 17.5-acre site — is coming down. So is a connected restaurant building that housed Lakes restaurant in the former home of Charley's Crab.

Lakes, previously called Northern Lakes Seafood Restaurant, moved to the Met Hotel in 2013. Before that, it was in the Radisson Kingsley Inn in Bloomfield Hills, which is now a DoubleTree by Hilton with a Joe Muer Seafood restaurant attached.

Detroit-based The Epicurean Group operated Northern Lakes Seafood. The group's president, Eric Djordjevic, confirmed to Crain's that Lakes closed sometime around the transfer of property ownership.

The Epicurean Group had spent about $500,000 converting the tri-level restaurant from Charley's Crab to Northern Lakes Seafood. The space was known for its nautical-themed tchotchkes, stained-glass window and carved woods.

The restaurant group is also known for its now-closed Coach Insignia atop the Renaissance Center in Detroit; it operates several restaurants including Novi Chophouse and the Nomad Grill in Southfield.