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Detroit Native Wants to Redevelop Historic Lee Plaza Hotel for Luxury Apartments

leeplazadetroitThe best success stories feature someone who’s willing and excited to give back, especially to the community that they grew up in and are in many ways influenced by. Add Craig Sasser, 63, to the list of such candidates.

Sasser, a real estate developer and current CEO of Moneta Energy LLC who recently moved back from Los Angeles, announced on Nov. 19 his plans for a $200 million investment project to revitalize Detroit’s historic and abandoned Lee Plaza Residential Hotel, according to

“Development has always been in my heart, when you see a good project, you know it,” Sasser, who grew up in Detroit, said. “This is a symbol of the shame and decline of what we as citizens have allowed to happen to our city. We can’t blame others. We are the solution.”

The building, which is on the National Register of Historic Places, was built in 1927 as a luxury residential hotel and closed in the 1990s as a low-income senior living residence. Sasser wants to turn the 17-story structure into a 200-unit luxury apartment building.

His plan to buy the old Lee Plaza also includes the purchasing of two adjoining lots for a reported $258,000 from the Detroit Housing Commission. Ideally, he wants to have the sale finalized by December, the building cleaned out starting in January, and development to begin as soon as possible.

Sasser gave fall 2017 as a projected date for the project to be complete and available to rent a luxury apartment in.

The location of Lee Plaza is well outside the bounds of Detroit’s Midtown and downtown areas, which is where most of the higher-end real estate developments are found. Not only does Sasser plan on equipping the apartments with all the necessary requirements, such as at least one smoke detector per unit, but also additional amenities like renewable energy sources. The housing commission’s executive director, Kelly Lyons confirmed the potential sale to the Detroit Free Press.

“We are excited by Craig’s plans for the building, as well as his commitment to neighborhood involvement in the process,” Lyons said in an e-mail.

“Craig is the first to demonstrate the ability and commitment to close the transaction with the understanding that he must comply with the historic requirements to maintain the historic integrity of Lee Plaza.”

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