Last week, Christmas came early for the U-Haul Nabisco building….Two exciting things happened: one heralding its future and one providing insight into its past.

U-Haul Sign on NBC-Nabisco Building in Detroit

Signs are up!

The event we’ve all been waiting for…the U-Haul signs are now atop the building. M and D Lighting pulled into the parking lot Tuesday morning with the first truckload of letters. As they carefully unloaded each 7′ x 7′ letter, someone quipped that they reminded them of Scrabble tiles.

Unloading Sign at U-Haul NBC-Nabisco Building DetroitIt took most of the day to unload each of the 10 letters, and Wednesday to prepare them for installation. On Thursday, the crane arrived and was set up on Baltimore. (They had to shut down that section of the street for the entire day.) At 10 a.m, the first “U” began its seven-story ascent.

The operation ran with military-like precision. The coordination between the crane operator, the ground crew and the riggers on the roof was amazing. The letters for the southside sign were “flown” first and positioned for installation on Friday. Then the riggers began the installation of the north sign.

Installing U-Haul Sign on NBC-Nabisco Building DetroitIt was a bright, clear day, but a 15-20 mph wind gave the riggers a bit of trouble; however, being the pros that they are, they got the job done and by 2.

By the end of the day Friday, the south sign was installed and it became clear for all to see knew that U-Haul was in the neighborhood.

I think it’s appropriate that the first sign up faces the Fisher building – an apt tribute to the industry that mobilized America; and that the second sign faces Wayne State University – one of the moving forces helping to shape the future of Detroit.

Better than a coupon for free Oreos!

Shortly after the signs arrived on Tuesday, I received an email from the Nabisco archive folks. Attached were scans of two 1920 Nabisco employee newsletters with write-up and photos of the “new” building in Detroit. For a few minutes, I forgot about the signs as I read through the treasure trove I’d just received. I will be sharing the information and the photos in upcoming posts.NBC-Nabisco Building Equipment 1920 006

For now, see if you can figure out what the equipment in this photo was used for.

Ramps, glass and bricks

The rooftop wasn’t the only focus of activity. Down on the ground, K & K finished configuring the geo foam and poured the concrete for the ADA-compliant and the forklift ramp in the loading/unloading area.

U-Haul NBC-Nabisco Building Detroit - Working on the Showroom WindowRepair work on the showroom windows continued. Two sills have been replaced, primered and painted,  and new glass has been installed in one of the sections.

U-Haul NBC-Nabisco Building Detroit - Reworking exit door areaThe area in front of the exit door has been removed and regraded – with the same slope as the showroom apron – to drain water better and to be ADA compliant. The masons used brick to maintain the brick-road look.

That’s it for this week. This blog was created to let the community know that U-Haul is in Detroit, and to share our plans with you and to get input from the community. We want to hear from you. Tell us what you like and don’t like about our posts, building plans or anything else you want to share about Detroit. We are excited to be part of the Detroit community and want to learn from you!

Next post, 12/24.

–Pref

2 Responses to Early Christmas for U-Haul Nabisco Building 12-17-12

  1. Rob Klatt says:

    Really exciting to watch the building and grounds come together. I am so impressed with the commitment U-Haul has to adaptive re-use and preservation. Many of the rehab projects I have been involved with in Detroit uncover oddities of design and construction or unique accents. Too often the project managers or backers shrug off these aspects and would sooner rip out things like the brick road you discovered. It is so refreshing to see a corporation not only embracing this kind of thing, but actually celebrating it! This type of policy is what will turn heads and result in so many “Oh cool!” moments with your customers. There is no better advertising in my mind. As I read of your various discoveries such as the Buffalo scales, I wonder if you had given any thought to a small display in the show room detailing your rehab work as well as memorabilia from the time when Nabisco occupied the building. I would be happy to contribute hard copies of the items I have if you decide to go that route.
    My guess as to the equipment: some fashion of flour/dough mixer given the design and sacks piled up behind. Possibly controlled by this switch? (Hoping someone saved the massive Dr. Frankenstein power panel).

  2. Pref says:

    Thanks Rob. Almost right…they are hoppers that carry flour to the mixers. I know that there have been discussions of some sort of display, but no decisions have been made yet. Thanks for the offer to contribute. I will keep you posted.

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