DETROIT (FOX 2) - When the idea for the Monarch Club first arrived, Detroit developer David Di Rita had his doubts.
"We stood right on the roof I am standing on now with 14-foot trees growing out of this roof all around us, no parapets in other words, it just went off the side here," he said. "(We) toasted the future of this building and even as much as we knew we would get it done, I looked around and I was like, oh boy, what have we taken on."
At the time, Detroit's Metropolitan Building on John R had been neglected for nearly four decades. Vandals had taken over, with water running through the wedge building. Surrounding building owners wanted the 90-year-old structure to be torn down -- it was literally falling apart.
But his Roxbury Group, which had just renovated the David Whitney Building, recognized the diamond in the rough and started a $33 million overhaul.
"This is exterior architecture, this was on some level, easy," he said. "We knew what it need to look like what we really focused on what was the main rooms what are the lounge keep look like. To us, those had to evoke the grandeur of the rest of the building - even though it never existed before it was new."
Developers spent two years renovating the metropolitan inside the Element Hotel by Westin and their crowning jewel, the Monarch Club, with a breathtaking view of the city.
"Honestly what drew me here to the Monarch Club was the view," said Jared Bobkin, head chef. "I've lived in Detroit my whole life and have never seen it from this standpoint. It's absolutely incredible."
Bobkin is the head chef, a Detroit native, who appeared on the intense reality cooking show Hell's Kitchen.
"I learned how to cook at that level - I did not necessarily learn recipes, but I really learned to cook at the Michelin level," he said.
With his talent, he designed a menu of small plates to compliment the craft cocktails.
"It is really to compliment the drink right," he said. "I am making food that is identifiable and recognizable that will bring you back to your child hood like the poutine. I'm serving tater tots right bringing you back to your childhood which makes it fun, makes it shareable, recognizable and you enjoy talking about it."
Monarch Club opened its roof top last May and the response has been overwhelming. Patrick Thompson Design was responsible for building on the historic architectural details to create a castle vibe.
It has three look out terraces, plush lounges and a swanky bar, inspired by the old Detroit social clubs like the Old Recess Club in the Fisher Building.
"It is a place you can have a conversation, you can find a seat, this was very much, I made the reference to somebody the other day, they said, 'Is this open to the public?' I said think of it as a private club you get to join every day."
>>For more info go to monarchclubdetroit.com
Di Rita, who grew up on the city's east side, has watched the city navigate through tough economic times. He credits the resiliency of the people and is pleased to be part of the transformation people across the country are watching.
"It is something we are very proud of. It is very meaningful to us," he said. "We are Detroit-based developers but we are Detroit developers."