Historic Detroit Restaurant Goes Energy Efficient With C-PACE

Austin-based Petros PACE Finance facilitated nearly $1 million in C-PACE financing, which will allow the owner to install energy-saving components that are projected to save $2 million during the next 20 years.

By Anca Gagiuc

The historic Whitney Restaurant will be the first property in Detroit to score a PACE loan. Petros PACE Finance closed on an $863,130 Commercial Property Assessed Clean Energy (C-PACE) loan with The New Whitney Real Estate LLC that will be used to fund energy efficient upgrades at Detroit’s most iconic mansion. 

Owner Arthur “Bud” Liebler intends to use the loan to acquire new HVAC units, LED lighting, building controls, storm windows and kitchen ranges, which are anticipated to generate more than $2 million in utility, operations and maintenance savings over the 20-year term of the loan. The project will be financed through the Lean & Green Michigan PACE program, which permits commercial property owners to modernize their buildings with renewable energy and energy efficient systems, by using money from a private lender and then repaying the loan through a special assessment on their local property tax.

Whitney’s history

The impressive property was built in 1894 by lumber baron David Whitney Jr. using rose-colored South Dakota jasper stone. The 22,000-square-foot mansion has 52 rooms and 10 bathrooms, 2,018 windows, 20 fireplaces and numerous stained-glass windows crafted by Tiffany’s of New York. It was the first residential building in Detroit to have an elevator for personal use.

“Inefficient energy use and high utility costs are a common challenge for historic property owners,” Petros CEO Mansoor Ghori said in prepared remarks. “The PACE program makes it incredibly easy for property owners to invest in energy efficiency by spreading the cost out over many years—20 years in this case—and making the investment cash flow positive for the borrower from day one.”

The current owner acquired the property in 2007, but the last time its mechanical systems were upgraded was in the 1980s.

“The PACE program gives building owners and businesses like ours an incredible opportunity to update old systems without dipping into operating funds,” added Liebler. “You end up with an up-to-date and totally energy efficient property and have the energy savings benefits while you’re paying back the loan. It’s a win-win for everyone.” 

Images courtesy of The Whitney

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