July 17, 2014 at 12:17 pm

Commission approves $13.4M sale of Old Wayne County Building

Detroit Wayne County commissioners Thursday agreed to sell the Old Wayne County Building, paving the way for the historic site to be owned by New York investors.

Commissioners approved the $13.4 million sale that includes a 120-vehicle, county-owned parking lot adjacent to the building on Randolph. The county will net $2.67 million in the sale money earmarked in paying down the countys estimated $100 million accumulated deficit.

The finalization of the sale would come Tuesday following an approval from the Wayne County Economic Development Corporation.

Commissioners expressed concern the new owner would alter or even tear down the 112-year-old building, which has been on the National Register of Historic Places since 1975. Last week Moshe Oppenheim, a New York attorney representing the buyers, assured commissioners his clients were interested in the historic value of the site and that they were looking to start the beautification process and bring it back to life as soon as possible.

The investors expect to spend up to $5 million in repairs. Another $5 million to $10 million would likely be spent to make the space viable to lease to a company or companies, Oppenheim said.

Im happy to see the persons buying this will restore it to its grandeur, said Commissioner Irma Clark-Coleman, D-Detroit. I look forward to seeing this building restored.

Since 2010, the county has been involved in legal squabbles with the owners of the building, a consortium called The Old Wayne County Limited Partnership. The county entered into a lease agreement with the partnership in 1987 but by 2003 started accusing it of overcharging for services and rent.

Wayne County government left the building in December 2009, moving to the nearby Guardian Building. The building has since been vacant.

The county sued in 2010, and the partnership filed countersuits. Legal fees surrounding arbitration on the issue cost county taxpayers $950,000, according to county records.

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New York investors are buying the former Wayne County Building at 600 Randolph, which opened in 1902. / Max Ortiz / The Detroit News