The Motown Museum isn’t the only one of Detroit’s historic music attractions getting a major expansion. Last month, the Music Hall Center for the Performing Arts announced plans for a new $122 million complex that will sit adjacent to its downtown building. The 108,000-square-foot expansion will be built on the hall’s current parking lot and have an additional concert venue, a music academy, restaurant and more. 

The Music Hall sits in the Madison-Harmonie Historic District which requires the city’s Historic District Commission to approve development plans. The commission approved most of the proposal at its meeting in September, but requested a redesign for some exterior features and will come back for a vote at a later date. 

Staff for the commission prepared a report detailing the history of the building and how designs for the new construction fit into the overall architectural character of the district. The new building is modern in its aesthetic, but the report is positive overall in its assessment. 

The hall was originally called the Wilson Theater when it opened in 1928, the report says. It was designed by William Kapp of the renowned local architecture firm Smith, Hinchman & Grylls (now SmithGroup) and is considered “one of the best examples of early Art Deco architecture in Detroit.” The building has a beautiful green and tan mosaic and sculptures by Corrado Parducci just below the roofline.

We got a chuckle from this line from the report: “In this particular instance, the applicant’s proposal represents a rare opportunity to … mitigate against the suburban-style parking lots and driveways now debasing the immediate vicinity.” As haters of surface lots, we couldn’t agree more!

Aaron (he/him) believes in telling true stories about real people. He doesn’t think there’s anything better than a crisp fall afternoon at the Detroit Jazz Fest.