The Left Bank, Volume 5, 1997

What would you say your projects range from?…

insanity to more insanity……Everything from a turn of the century 20 story highrise to huge train stations, old high schools to factories-industrial buildings, department stores, city blocks - some infill, some new construction.

Mostly in urban areas?

ALL urban areas. no subdivisions for me…no malls either.

I couldn’t be inspired, I’d be bored - there would be no satisfaction. It’s not good enough for me to just make a living, it’s secondary, I have to enjoy what I do first - and what I do I like other people to enjoy for a long long time…I guess it’s all in the eye of the beholder, but…what kind of person…has a relative that the showcase of their city is a mall out in suburbia?…I mean…you know… Anyone who has any basic education understands the importance of a quality built environment and what it means to ones life style- we’ve just become, as Americans, such a throwaway society - that we accept such mediocre performance in our built environment, that they take the easy way out. People want to do the right thing…they just have to be educated & encouraged. If you can just produce a little bit of the right thing to start a seed…

You said at the city council meeting…something, that really threw me a curve…when you said…The Hudson’s building could be a “seed for nourishment”-
You don’t hear words like that.

Why not.
You just don’t, developers, just don’t talk like that.
Oh yeah…those developers…they build roads and name… them after their kids or ‘tree lane’…what tree?, you took it down, asshole…in the damn subdivision…‘apache pass’…what the hell is that?…they ought to sue them for ’tree lane’…there’s not a tree discrimination for a racial slur against Native Americans…it’s insulting.

How would you characterize your projects? challenging… adaptive reuse?…
First & foremost - interesting…stimulating - not just to me & it’s something the community wants or I don’t want to do it.

What makes you so community focused?
Is that being community focused?…I guess it is…Wouldn’t it be best, in your lifestyle - where wouldn’t it be nice if you could walk down to the corner grocery store & know your neighbor & say ‘hi’ to the elderly couple & know who they are & not rely on the police to police your neighborhood - because all your neighbors are & to have that kind of fabric & have that kind of situation that you don’t have to drive that long distance to work…as a matter of fact you could walk or bike or take your car…you could have a number of different options…and where you had a diverse group of people living next to each other…you know - sharing the richness of life - that would be the optimum.

You go through life & what makes the best things in life - some of life’s best memories…is the richness you gain out of it - from sharing other peoples experiences. How do you do that if you create these distances - travel & play, travel & work, live & work…one’s free time is so important to the health of an individual, that if you have to spend it under a stressful situation because of your commute to work - or your commute to the grocery store…you know it’s wasted time - its time that’s not quality time.

There’s a big generation of Americans that don’t know anything about the neighborhood corner grocery store & the police officer that lived down the block, where everyone had a sidewalk & you had an alley behind your house…where neighbors really cared for neighbors…and you knew your neighbors. There are a lot of people who just don’t know what that is anymore or they’ve forgotten it, or they never experienced it.

Do you feel with your projects, that people can experience a little more of that…or that you bring a little more of that to life in an area?
Absolutely. Especially when you mix incomes…

Do you care to comment on the potential of Detroit?
Look at what you have & utilize it. You guys..have a lot….a lot - and it’s not all disjointed - you don’t just have a building here & a building there - you don’t have to invent a bunch of new buildings they’re there - it ‘s like ‘hey I ‘m here reuse me!’ You can end up with a product nobody can duplicate for the money - you have the ability to go in and really create some fabric that ties with the community - the people and the places together where do you start? you start where you can make the biggest impact - and you have the ability to have the biggest impact - in my mind…in Detroit, where it is most noticed is right downtown. Your Hudson’s building affords an opportunity, that in a very short period of time, historically, can be an example, on the national level, of what you can do.

Do you think Detroit has the framework in place?
They have the…I don’t know if they have the human framework in place - the leadership framework in place - I don’t know that…But I they definitely have the wealth…the corporate wealth…to get involved…they definitely have the physical infrastructure…in all the buildings…they’re all sitting there…It’s so backwards… what lost tax base goes because a building is allowed to sit derelict - every city has them.

Everyone makes so much bones about recycling…Hey, you’re the ultimate recycler if you do old buildings. Think about the natural resources that it takes to make one brick or to make lumber, that you trash & throw in the ground when you tear down a building -this is kind of far out but you’re really stealing & robbing from the next generations…& you don’t need to to it…for every building you take down that has a possibility for reuse. They all have reuses to some extent, just think about it.

If you look at the crap that goes up in their place…think of all the fast food joints & gas stations that were built 25 to 30 years ago, they’re not there anymore - they’re throw away…they’re garbage, they don’t withstand the test of time - and all that takes a tremendous amount of natural resources & energy from somewhere else.

You could have a wonderful community of housing, that will give people a sense of pride and a sense of place - self supporting, self policing, and would not take any additional services from the city. The infrastructure is already there, it wouldn’t require more sewer lines, it wouldn’t require more fire stations - it would create a constituency that cared - a constituency that got involved in the city. It would foster retail that meets the needs of the people that live there. It would create an urban neighborhood, densely populated where the people would create a synergy that would be such a shining example… I don’t mean just noticed on a local level - that’s very important - but noticed on a a state level and national level, that’s important because it’ll help people see - give people pride and encouragement to continue efforts in their own community and outside your community to be a teacher.

What would be better than if you could walk down & go to some theater, get what you need for you basic necessities - you don’t need a big huge grocery store, it would be nice but just get your basic necessities & dry cleaning & a video, or go to a movie or a little coffee shop or restaurant, be able to jump in your car if you want, when you want…but to have that kind of living environment, you know, where your neighbors care & they’re sharing the same interests that you do - they care about…automatically doing something in an inner city like that - just naturally pulls all those people together.

There’s a huge opportunity there but somebody has to have the passion & the leadership to make it happen.


It’s possible. It can be done
If you want to make it happen

We’ve done projects & restored
buildings that were in far worse
condition (than the Hudson’s
building) But…you need to set
a vision & make a commitment to
the whole area (lower
Woodward corridor)

You need to make a commitment
to the Area not just a single
building…But a commitment
to the Area

it can be done
----if you want

My plans?
if this building is of value
if you need help
I can help you
I know what it takes.

What do I want?…
What do you want?…
What does the city

“Randy Alexander is a man of keen vision. He sees beyond the water damage and crumbling walls. Randy sees a place where people can gather, an urban community that turns out to be the cornerstone of Downtown redevelopment.

Randy has developed a national reputation for tackling projects that others would not touch and turning white elephants into creative living spaces.

It’s that combination of love for urban living and love for historic preservation that makes Randy Alexander so successful.

The completion of the LaSalle Apartments is the culmination of a great process that has brought back to life one of Downtown Toledo’s landmarks. For years, it was considered a symbol of urban decline in the heart of our City. It is now the catalyst and inspiration for the rebirth of Downtown Toledo.”

Carleton S. Finkbeiner
Mayor - City of Toledo

"....this is a company about which we hear unsolicited praise from-downtown development professionals in places like Fort Worth, Cleveland, Toledo and Milwaukee; where Alexander has redeveloped everything from 19th Century factories to downtown department stores - all as housing. Hundreds of millions of dollars worth of development. Sixteen years of experience. Thirty to forty percent equity investment in every project. Not a single failed project." Cityscape, Detroit Detroit, A Dynamic Urban Center-Now Is The Time

Michael Morgan Commissioner,
Dept. of City Development - City of Milwaukee

City Hall Square Project located downtown - a catalyst housing orientated redevelopment project on the river.

Randy did a wonderful job in conceptualizing & putting together a development plan that should yield a real showpiece on our river. He is an ideal developer, we are very happy with the work we’ve done with him & our relationship

It was an underutilized piece of prime real estate that we tried to encourage developers in our community to develop. We thought “gosh, who would want to take on this...?”

Randy stepped up to the plate with a plan that was economically viable & made a lot of sense. We were impressed with his experience of doing quality work.

Paul Krutko
Downtown Housing Manager - City of Cleveland

The conversion of the National Terminal Building, a historic warehouse on the city’s waterfront that had been vacant for over a decade and once served Morton Salt, Hormel, Gerber and Nestle. Developers & development plans had come and gone...

This will be our best project to date. We're excited about it. It’s our first mixed income - Randy’s forte, a wonderful project...very unique.

Most developers are interested in suburban areas around freeway interchanges, Randy on the other hand wants to look at properties in the city center.

I couldn’t give you a higher recommendation if your vision is to do adaptive reuse to provide housing in your community. Very few people in development have that kind of vision and say “I am willing to come in and take the risk”

It’s been a refreshing experience working with the Alexander Company. They have a competent professional staff to handle all phases - from project management to construction management and architecture.