House owned by holdout owners near Little Caesars Arena burns down
A rundown house in the shadow of Little Caesars Arena was leveled by fire early Monday — property owned by one of the last holdouts in the area surrounding the venue who have not sold to the Ilitch organization.
The Detroit Fire Department received a call around 4 a.m. about a fire at 2712 Cass, Crain’s Detroit Business first reported. The 3,344-square-foot house, built in 1880, was destroyed and ashes continued to smolder at the site late Monday morning.
The fire's cause was not immediately known. The owners of the house had asked as much as $5 million for the property in the past, with its most recent asking price reduced to $2.5 million in June.
The lot was being marketed as vacant, said listing agent Shane Parker, broker owner of S&P Realty in Grosse Pointe Park. He said there has been interest in the site and he expects that interest will continue.
“From my understanding, the structure had to come down anyway,” he said. “Shocking it came down this way. I was a little shocked this morning when I woke up. But nevertheless continuing onward.”
The rear of the eight-bedroom house had been partially charred black from a previous fire. No one was in the house at the time of the fire, Parker said.
The lot sits around the corner from the Little Caesars Arena Garage on Sproat Street. According to city records, the property is owned by the Scherazade Love Lr Trust. The lot is zoned B4, which Parker said opens the site to multiple uses. The owners are also open to a land contract, he said.
Detroiter Uraina Fisher said her daughter called her early Monday morning to ask her about the smoke and fire she saw coming from the site. Fisher lives a few blocks away and her daughter, who saw the fire from her home, was concerned it may have been Fisher’s apartment complex on fire. Together, the two drove over to get a closer look.
“I opened my window and I could see over Little Caesars Arena,” she said. “I saw this big smoke and fire. I said, ‘Come get me.’ She came and got me and we drove over there.”
Fisher saw at least 10 fire trucks at the site when she and her daughter arrived, she said: “All of them standing in the street just watching this house burned down. One truck did have a hose on the house.”
Fisher said she took photos of the fire as the flames engulfed the wood-frame house and left when the fire got “really hot and intense.” She returned later in the morning to see what became of the house.
“Now there were these big old (fire) trucks and all of them were down on it putting out the sticks,” she said.
In preparation for what would become Little Caesars Arena in 2017 and District Detroit, the Ilitch organization spent nearly $50 million and years quietly buying more than 50 properties from dozens of private owners. In 2014, the firm told the Detroit City Council it had all the land needed for the arena, but still had bids on other properties.
A Detroit Fire Department spokesman did not return messages seeking comment.