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DETROIT — General Motors Corp. sold the historic Argonaut Building in New Center Thursday to a California-based developer that will convert the 11-story office structure into roughly 250 loft apartments and retail space.

The building was purchased by Orton Development Inc. in Irvine, Calif, according to a news release. The sale price was not disclosed. The company has developed more than 6.5 million square feet of mixed-use space since 1987.

The conversion of the Albert Kahn designed Argonaut Building provides an “instant neighborhood,” said Michael Solaka, president of New Center Council, a civic group which promotes development in the office district.

The area has seen several redevelopment efforts in recent years. Since 1998, more than 100 condominiums have been built in New Center while new office and retail tenants have been added in the Fisher, Albert Kahn and New Center One buildings.

“We’re preparing to add more residences in the (neighboring) New Amsterdam Historic District,” Solaka said.

New Amsterdam, bounded by Interstate 94, Woodward and Second streets and a railroad track, is located just south of New Center.

The Jonna Cos., a Southfield-based real estate development firm, will soon convert two buildings in New Amsterdam into 100 apartments, Solaka said.

GM also sold Orton a square block of real estate east of the Argonaut Building, a portion of which could become the future home of Detroit Public Television (WTVS), development officials said.

Steve Antoniotti, WTVS president and general manager, could not be contacted for comment.

Just south of the Argonaut building, Wayne State University and several partners will open Tech One, a business incubation and research center in a former GM building called Chevrolet Creative Services.

The five-story structure, located within New Amsterdam, is located on Burroughs, between Cass and Second.



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