It’s been a year since U-Haul purchased the Nabisco building in New Center Detroit and we are still discovering new things about it. Take the clamshell scoop in the showroom, for example. We know it’s sure to be a popular spot for photos when the center opens and we thought we knew its history. We thought it was used to carry grain, but when we painted it, we discovered coal, not grain, in the vents of the scoop’s control car. Like the tunnel and the room at the end it that we discovered months ago, the scoop was a bit of a mystery too.
Turns out that the showroom area, minus the raised floor we installed, was the boiler room for the bakery. Trainloads of coal were delivered via the rail spur that entered the building and the coal was stored in the large rooms to the east of the showroom. In order to meet the requirements of the bakery, a six-month supply of coal was always on hand. The clamshell scoop didn’t deliver grain, it brought the coal from the storage area and delivered it to the boiler room. Mystery solved.
This discovery also solved another mystery…the scale in the showroom. No one could figure out how the scale, hovering nearly 20 feet above the original floor, was used in the original bakery operations. That high up, how could anything be hoisted up to it to be weighed? Project Manager Tony Balcerzak did some digging and discovered that the scoop and car were weighed by resting on top of the scale to determine the weight of the coal being deposited, thus enabling the boiler techs to accurately determine the amount of coal needed for the day’s operations.
Whether it’s early on or near the end of the adaptive reuse and revitalization of an historic building like this grand old building, discovery is one of the joys of the process. Who knows what we will find in the future.
While we have been solving some mysteries, the crews continue to get the building ready for our Detroit customers.
Computers have been installed on the counters in the showroom, and are getting ready to process reservations! On the fourth floor, the maple floor has been completely scrubbed, sealed and is looking fantastic. The bathroom on the third floor has been framed and the plumbing is being installed.
Outside, the large overhead door on the train track and the railings have been painted, and the first of two lifestyle banners has been installed, giving the south side of building a whole new and exciting look.
And finally…being an old Navy guy…I was happy to see ship’s ladders being installed in the loading/unloading area and in the room at the end of the tunnel.
This blog was created to let the community know that U-Haul is in Detroit, and to share our plans with you and to get input from the community. We want to hear from you. Tell us what you like and don’t like about our posts, building plans or anything else you want to share about Detroit. We are excited to be part of the Detroit community and want to learn from you!