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Cass-Henry Historic District up for public comment

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A protest outside the Atlanta Apartments and Hotel Ansonia last summer.
Photo by Michelle & Chris Gerard

Last summer, preservationists rallied to save a section of buildings in Cass Corridor owned by Olympia Development (the Ilitches) and threatened with demo. Since then, citizens have voiced their support in creating a historic district in this area. Now, City Council will listen to public comment on the matter.

Public comment is expected to take place Thursday, June 28 starting at 10 a.m. on the 13th floor of the Coleman A. Young Municipal Building.

The Ilitches have owned these buildings since 2009 and have not kept them up. For some reason, the city rarely gives them blight tickets, but the Free Press questioned this and the city finally ticketed them. Olympia has recently been given an extension on the tickets.

The buildings do not have windows and are not secure. They now have until July 9 to fix this.

According to the Free Press, “The notice posted May 21 asked that the properties be registered as vacant buildings, that owners secure a required Certificate of Compliance and that they correct failures to maintain the vacant buildings.”

This block in question still has its buildings in tact, unlike most blocks in the surrounding area. Preservationists argue that since many buildings in the city have been brought back from the brink of demo, these could as well.

Olympia has bought many properties in Cass Corridor, and has made many announcements about renovating buildings, but the Fox Theatre remains the only building to date that they’ve restored (in 1988). In the past, they’ve demoed many buildings in favor of surface parking lots. They’ve started work on three buildings this year behind and near the Fox—the Detroit Life Building, the Women’s City Club Building, and an Albert Kahn Building at 1922 Cass Avenue.