Detroit cracks down on Corktown’s CPA Building owners

Lauren Abdel-Razzaq
The Detroit News

The owners of the iconic CPA Building in Corktown are hoping to delay the city’s slated demolition of the property as they work on redevelopment plans.

New York-based owners Sequoia Property Partners, which purchased the block of Corktown that includes the CPA Building, haven’t done anything to develop the area. But they have plans, said Greg Newman, principal of Keystone Commercial Real Estate LLC.

“These guys do not want to demo that property, they want to remodel it,” said Newman, who represents Sequoia on the deal. “They know it’s an important property for the area. There’s so much history there.”

The city of Detroit says the CPA Building has been on a list for demolition since April 2007. But a Feb. 5 inspection of the property pushed it back into attention when inspectors determined it posed a danger to the public, said John Roach, spokesman for Mayor Mike Duggan.

“The building was found to be vacant, open to trespassers and structurally unsound,” said Roach. “On March 11, it was declared an emergency by the building safety engineering department.”

Roach says there is no funding set aside to demolish the building at this point. “The city hasn’t filed a nuisance abatement lawsuit because we’ve heard the building owners have a plan for redevelopment,” he said.

According to Newman, Sequoia intends to remodel the six-story, 11,000-square-foot building at 2338 Michigan as residential units, with a first floor set up for commercial use. The building is in the process of being boarded up and scrubbed of graffiti. Once that is done, the company can apply for a deferment of the demolition.

The CPA Building, named for the Conductors Protective Association railroad workers organization it housed, is the triangular, graffiti-riddled building across the street from Slows Bar BQ restaurant. The building had been for sale for 11 years, according to CoStar, a commercial real estate information service. The list price was $900,000.

The deal with Sequoia was finalized last May. Newman says the owners haven’t done anything to develop the building since then.

“They are kind of watching the area and they are looking at rental rates,” he said. “As soon as the rental rates rise, which they are doing, they will move forward when it makes sense economically.”

Roach says the process now allows for Sequoia to discuss plans and work on a consent agreement with the city that would establish certain benchmarks and timelines for the redevelopment.

“We’ve done this process with dozens of commercial buildings in the city,” said Roach. “The idea is it’s just not acceptable to leave your building sitting vacant and being a nuisance to the public anymore. The goal is to get property owners to take responsibility for the condition of their buildings.”

(313) 222-2127