The Whitney, a National Historic Landmark and favorite Detroit restaurant for more than three decades, is taking significant steps to become a leader in energy efficiency while also enhancing the guest experience.
As Detroit and Wayne County’s first approved C-PACE (Commercial Property Assessed Clean Energy) program participant, The Whitney will invest more than $850,000 in new, more efficient HVAC systems, lighting, windows, kitchen equipment, and building controls to replace older systems installed when the building was converted into a restaurant in 1986.
The expenditures are being funded by an $860,000 PACE loan which enables property owners to retrofit their buildings with energy efficient systems by borrowing from a private lender and repaying via a special assessment on their property tax. Paybacks are made from guaranteed cost savings generated by the new systems. Newman Consulting Group, an emerging leader in PACE project development, coordinated The Whitney project.
“The Whitney is enjoying its best year in more than a decade and reinvesting our profits back into the business,” said owner Bud Liebler. “We’re buying new chairs, new carpeting and draperies, and touching up the paint. But this is the right time for us to take on major operational projects that have needed to be addressed and we couldn’t afford this kind of investment without the PACE program. PACE enables us to reduce energy costs while providing the basic things our guests expect like uniform heating and cooling, up-to-date, easy on the eyes lighting, air tight windows, and state-of-the-art kitchen equipment.”
“This is the first project in what I expect to grow into a larger effort to help our businesses become greener,” said Wayne County Executive Warren C. Evans. “My team and I are excited to connect other local businesses with PACE.”
The Whitney was built in 1894 by lumber baron David Whitney, Detroit’s wealthiest citizen at the time. The 21,000-square-foot, 52-room mansion, which was called “the most pretentious house in the west” when it was built, has served as a private residence, offices and now a restaurant and has preserved most of its original hand carved woodwork, unique Tiffany windows, 21 fireplaces, and period wallpapers and furnishings.
“Anyone who knows Detroit knows The Whitney which has stood sentinel on Woodward Avenue through all the ups and downs since the days of the lumber barons,” said Andy Levin, president of Lean & Green Michigan, administrator of the PACE program. “It is beyond gratifying to help make this gorgeous Detroit fixture a symbol of our smart, low carbon future.”
“When I first purchased The Whitney in 2007 I was motivated by my desire to preserve and protect one of Detroit’s greatest architectural assets and keep it open as a public space. Our goal is to get better every day, to offer our guests world class food and drink and a better, more complete experience every time they visit. The PACE financing helps us further that goal by dramatically improving our infrastructure and mechanicals,” said Liebler.