August 15, 2014 at 1:00 am

Detroit targets historic Park Avenue Building for demolition

The Park Avenue Building in the Grand Circus Park area has been empty since the late 1990s. Detroit is taking legal steps to have it demolished. (David Coates / The Detroit News)

Detroit— One year after the former Charlevoix Hotel near Grand Circus Park was demolished, the city is taking legal steps to tear down the empty historic building next door: the Albert Kahn-designed Park Avenue Building.

The building is in one of the five new “neighborhoods” planned in a $650 million, 45-block district that would be anchored by the new home ice for the Detroit Red Wings as well as create hundreds of new apartments, offices and other mixed-use retail.

The 12-story Park Avenue Building is on the northwest corner of West Adams Avenue and Park. It has been empty since at least the late ’90s. The building was designed by famed architect Kahn in 1922, according to the city of Detroit planning department.

Last week, the city of Detroit Law Department described the condition of the building as “open, vacant and dangerous,” in a court filing in Wayne County Circuit Court. “It is the very definition of irreparable harm to the public,” the court filing said.

The building has a crumbling brick veneer, a damaged fire escape that could potentially fall off, and periodic open doors on the ground floor, the city attorneys said in the court filing.

The city wants Wayne Court Circuit Court Judge Robert Colombo Jr. to declare the site a public danger and issue a preliminary injunction against the private owner and order immediate demolition. Court records identify the owner as Ralph Sachs, doing business as Triangle Management.

Sachs also owned the former Charlevoix Hotel, which was razed last summer after years of legal battles with the city over the condition of the long-empty building.

Sachs faces a Sept. 19 hearing in the Park Avenue case. He could not be reached for comment. Attorneys for the city also did not respond to telephone calls and emails from The Detroit News.

Previous news reports say Sachs, a Troy attorney, bought the former Charlevoix Hotel and Park Avenue Building as investments several decades ago. The space where the Charlevoix Hotel used to stand is now an open lot. The buildings shared the same side of the 2000 block of Park, across the street from the Kales building, the Park Bar and Cliff Bell’s jazz club and restaurant.

The block is now slated to become “Columbia Park,” one of the new neighborhoods that will be part of the $650 million in planned development. Columbia Park will be bordered by Interstate 75 service drive to the north, Bagley to the south, Park to the east and Grand River to the west.

Columbia Park is described as “a fresh, modern neighborhood anchored by a new public green space” on the website DistrictDetroit.com. The driving force behind the new 45-block district is Olympia Development of Michigan, the real estate company owned by Michael and Marian Ilitch. Ilitch companies in the food, sports and entertainment industries include the Detroit Red Wings, Little Caesar Enterprises, Olympia Entertainment and Uptown Entertainment. Michael Ilitch owns the Detroit Tigers. Marian Ilitch owns the MotorCity Casino Hotel.

Olympia Development hopes to break ground on the $450 million arena along with another $200 million in development as soon as possible. Some construction could begin next month. The 650,000-square-foot sports and events center and much of the development are slated to open in the summer of 2017.

laguilar@detroitnews.com

Conceptual rendering of the Columbia Park neighborhood, one of five ... (Olympia Development of Michigan)