Arena holdout asks $3.5 million for fire-damaged home

Louis Aguilar
The Detroit News

The owners of a fire-damaged Cass Corridor house in the shadow of the new Red Wings arena are asking $3.5 million for the property. They are among the few holdouts in the area around the venue who have not sold to the Ilitch organization, which owns the Wings.

The home at 2712 Cass is an eight-bedroom, 3,344-square-foot house that was put on the market earlier this week, said Catina Willis, the listing agent representing the owners. The back of the home, which is partially charred black from a fire, is about a block away from a parking garage that will be built for the massive new arena, which is slated to open in 2017.

“We’ve gotten lots of calls, there definitely seems to be interest” in the house, Willis said.

The home is owned by a group of Detroit-area investors who paid $25,000 for it 13 years ago, according to Wayne County property records. The house has been subdivided into several rental apartments.

The owners often pay just enough of their property taxes to prevent tax foreclosure, according to county property records.

Last year, one of the owners of the home, Norma Schropshire, told The Detroit News they hadn’t talked to representatives of the Wings’ owners, Olympia Development of Michigan, in months. An offer of $350,000 was made by Olympia Development nearly 10 years ago, which was turned down, owners said. Olympia Development is the real estate arm of the Ilitch organization, which members of the Ilitch family control.

To accumulate blocks of land needed to build a sports/entertainment arena amid a planned upscale neighborhood, the Ilitch organization spent nearly $50 million and years secretly buying 56 properties from dozens of private owners. The city and its economic development council also collected 54 parcels in that eight-block area that will be used for the arena and ancillary development.

Ilitch officials told the City Council last year that it had all the land needed for the arena, but had bids on other properties and were still deciding whether they would continue to pursue them. Olympia officials last year said they had talks with the owners of two Cass Corridor party stores, Paul’s Place and Stadium Liquor, about purchasing the buildings. Paul’s Place has not been sold, said Alan Ackerman, the attorney representing the owners.

The attorney for Stadium Liquor said ownership of the building had not changed.

About a block from the rental home, the owner of a squat building on Sibley got $20 million, according to city and Wayne County property records.

The Cass Avenue home is in an eight-block area that’s being renamed Woodward Square. The area runs from the Fisher Freeway service drive from the south, Woodward to the east, Temple Street to the north and Cass to the west.

“Woodward Square will be the soul of The District Detroit, the new home for Hockeytown’s favorite team, the Red Wings,” according to the Ilitch-run website, thedistrictdetroit.com.

“At this neighborhood’s epicenter, the arena will be surrounded by a soaring glass-covered concourse pulsating with nightclub electricity, where food vendors, restaurants and shops will cater to a high-energy crowd that comes together to celebrate.”

An estimated 12 million people a year could visit Woodward Square, officials contend.

laguilar@detroitnews.com

Twitter: LouisAguilar_DN