Friday, December 12, 2008

Ilitch to get another $2.5 million from taxpayers to again demolish buildings


Detroit authority to pay for demolition of Ilitch company buildings

by Nancy Kaffer

Detroit’s Downtown Development Authority approved $2.5 million in state-funded grants to demolish six dilapidated downtown buildings owned by the Ilitch family’s Olympia Development.

The demolition funds are part of a pre-Super Bowl state allocation targeting Detroit’s most dilapidated structures.

Capping the demolition list is the historic Fine Arts/Adams Theatre Building in Grand Circus Park.

Also, buildings at 479-481 West Columbia, 2203-2211 Cass Ave., 2030 West Grand River Ave. and 145 Elizabeth St. would be completely demolished and replaced with hard-surface parking lots, said Fred Beal, president of Ann Arbor- and Detroit-based J.C. Beal Construction Inc.

The Fine Arts/Adams Theatre Building’s façade will remain as part of an agreement with the city’s Historic District Commission. Olympia will pick up the tab for the estimated $500,000 façade stabilization, Beal said.

The five smaller projects should be completed by the time the National Collegiate Athletic Association’s Final Four basketball tournament comes to Detroit in April, he said.

Two board members, attorney Jan Appel and downtown businessman Ted Gatzaros, voted against the project.

The Ilitch family’s ownership of the buildings gave some board members pause, leading to questions about the use of public money to demolish privately owned buildings.

Gatzaros asked whether Olympia-owned properties were those most in need of DDA-funded demolition.

“We need to prioritize where we apply money,” he said.

City officials urged action, pointing to the three years that have passed since the funds were initially made available.

“We have buildings falling down all around us and the owners won’t let us take them down,” said Douglas Diggs, director of Detroit’s Planning and Development Department. “I don’t think there’s any way to say these buildings shouldn’t come down. This impacts all of downtown.”

Original Article:

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