This Monday, demolition began on the Gold Dollar Bar, a Cass Avenue venue where Detroit garage rock bands like the White Stripes cut their teeth. Demolition should take about three weeks to complete, according to the subcontractor.
A July 22 fire caused irreparable damage to the building, and Crain’s Detroit Business reports that an emergency demolition notice was issued the next day. The building had been abandoned since the venue closed in 2001.
Initially, outlets like the Metro Times called the fire “suspicious” and suggested that arson may have taken place. But Dave Fornell, a spokesman for the Detroit Fire Department, told Crain’s last week that nearby video surveillance didn’t catch anyone entering or leaving the building the day of the fire.
The legendary, Ilitch-owned Gold Dollar is being demolished today after a suspicious fire gutted it. It’s where the White Stripes played their first show. Nothing is sacred to the Ilitches, who got $175M in Detroit tax dollars for LCA. pic.twitter.com/Vi1YXjGe55— Motor City Muckraker (@MCmuckraker) August 12, 2019
According to the city’s parcel database, the Gold Dollar Bar was bought by an Olympia Development–entity for $2.23 million in 2015. It’s proximity to Little Caesars Arena probably heightened suspicions of arson, especially since the building was deemed unsalvageable prior to the fire.
Motor City Muckraker noted that over 15 buildings in the Cass Corridor have been demolished since 2014. The Ilitches have faced criticism recently for building mostly surface parking lots around the arena.