July 3, 2014 at 9:46 am

Bridge company begins to raze buildings in southwest Detroit

On Thursday, workers started demolishing the property at 2600 W. Fort, which is on the corner of Fort near 18th. (David Coates / The Detroit News)

Detroit With the roar of a hungry excavator behind them, Mayor Mike Duggan and Detroit International Bridge Co. Vice President Matthew Moroun Thursday morning announced demolitions for several empty warehouses the bridge company owns in southwest Detroit.

On Thursday, workers started demolishing a property at 2600 W. Fort St., which is on the corner of Fort Street near 18th. A second property with three buildings at 2050-65 W. Fort Street is expected to be demolished next week.

The demolitions of the long empty, boarded up and graffiti-marred warehouses are part of a campaign by the city urging both residential and business property owners to either renovate or demolish mothballed buildings in Detroit.

We need to be realistic. We have a lot of properties that arent going to be renovated, said Duggan as thousands of bricks crashed to the ground from the three-story, 26,000 square-foot warehouse that formerly stored auto parts.

We want you to step up. If you cant renovate it then knock it down.

According to Moroun, the bridge company acquired the warehouse in December 2013.

We purchased this property because we want to expand our maintenance facility, which is west of this building, Moroun said. We want to do our part as a good corporate citizen. Taking down this eyesore will help make the area safer.

In November 2013, the bridge company also bought three empty warehouses in the 2050 block of Fort. The three have a total of 140,000 square feet of storage space.

The bridge company owns the Ambassador Bridge and Michigan Central Depot, the 18-story former station in southwest Detroit.

Moroun also spoke briefly Thursday about the ongoing renovation of the long-empty and heavily vandalized Central Deport.

To date, weve invested $4 million in the depot, Moroun said. And we intend to invest another $8 million. Currently were repairing the elevators so we can use them to move windows up. Otherwise, wed have to hire a crane. Were also going to start making repairs to the roof.

Asked if he had any clients ready to move into the depot once its completely renovated, Moroun grinned and said: No, but were going to ask all the media outlets if theyd be interested in relocating there.

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Matthew Moroun and Mayor Mike Duggan talk at the demolition of 2600 West ... (David Coates / The Detroit News)