City sues over land sale near bridge
Detroit — The city is suing the owners of a dilapidated plant in the footprint of the proposed public Detroit-Windsor bridge listed for $7 million.
The city's law department on Thursday sued GJL Enterprises, the owner of 111 Military, hoping a Wayne County circuit judge will order a cleanup of the half-demolished former waste oil recycling plant. If the owner doesn't comply, the city wants a judge to appoint a receiver who could raze it, sell the land and use the proceeds to pay for the demolition.
The city filed a public nuisance lawsuit against the owners of the crumbling and vacant nearly 4-acre site up for $7 million, according to an online real estate listing as of earlier this month. The former Sybill Oil plant is located within the site of the proposed New International Trade Crossing.
GJL Enterprises' agent, Janet Godfrey, declined comment Friday through an employee who answered the phone at her business, Downriver Public Warehouse on Fort Street in Detroit.
A city attorney writes in the lawsuit that the property is a "blight on the neighborhood" and is "an imminent threat to the health, safety and welfare of the public." The city wants the owner to finish demolishing the building and erect barricades to protect the public. Officials also want an engineering report that vouches for the safety of a water tower on the site.
The Michigan Department of Transportation is handling some property acquisition for the bridge. An MDOT official contacted Friday wasn't aware if they have made GJL an offer for the property. Officials have acknowledged they may use eminent domain laws to acquire properties for the public project.
The Canadian government expects the United States to finance $250 million for the bridge customs plaza in Detroit's Delray neighborhood while it funds the vast majority of the $2.1 billion new Detroit bridge. But the U.S. government hasn't committed the funds yet for the plaza.
The bridge, which is to be two miles south of the Ambassador Bridge, isn't scheduled to be completed until at least 2020.
GJL Enterprises faces tax foreclosure on the property next fall over more than $40,000 in property taxes and fees from 2012 and 2013. The company bought the site for $100,000 in 2007 after the old owner went into bankruptcy, according to court records.
Leonard N. Fleming and David Shepardson contributed to this report.