The Hotel Roosevelt opened in 1923 across from Michigan Central Station. For that reason, it is no surprise that its main clientele was travelers.
It featured 250 rooms with “every accommodation for the traveler or tourist,” an advertising postcard boasted. It also featured a ground-floor restaurant, as well as a barbershop and drug store. The Roosevelt, however, was not a first-class hotel.
By the late 1950s and early ’60s, rail travel had started to decline, thanks largely to the introduction of the interstate system. As the depot’s business dropped off, so did the Roosevelt’s.
By the time the depot closed in 1988, the Roosevelt was a down-on-its-luck joint. It was then turned into a shelter, a form of temporary lodging for those on welfare.
The hotel has been abandoned sometime in the ’90s. In 2005, Slows Bar BQ opened on a rather rundown stretch of Michigan Avenue. What followed would become one of the city’s greatest recent retail success stories and the redevelopment of a number of nearby storefronts. It was among this flurry of real estate deals that the Roosevelt was sold to a developer with the intent of turning the old hotel into trendy lofts. It never happened and the property fell into tax foreclosure. In 2010, it was sold for $37,500 to the Boydell Development Co.
Boydell offered to sell the building for considerably more than that price, but has found no takers. It has secured the previously open building, however, and replaced a number of its windows.