Detroit seeks to demolish nuisance building

Derek Draplin
The Detroit News

The city of Detroit is taking steps to demolish an abandoned building in the Old Redford neighborhood that’s long been a nuisance to the community.

The city recently inspected the building and “is preparing a nuisance abatement lawsuit against the owner and is recommending to City Council that it be placed on the demolition list,” John Roach, communication director for Mayor Mike Duggan, told The Detroit News in a statement.

The two-story commercial building, at Grand River Avenue and Lahser Road in Detroit, has a “for sale or lease” sign on it. Property records indicate it’s owned by Raj K. Sharma of Rochester Hills. A woman who answered the phone at Sharma‘s residence Thursday declined to comment.

John George of Motor City Blight Busters said he’s “fed up” because his organization has been tending to the building for the past decade.

“The building has been a nuisance for the past 10 years,” George said, noting that he’s boarded up the building “no less than half a dozen times.”

“Blight Busters has been maintaining that district for the past 27 years,” George said.

The move toward demolition comes ahead of Duggan’s Feb. 10 State of the City address to be held at the Old Redford Theater, located down the street from the dilapidated building. Duggan chose the location for the neighborhood’s success in fighting blight, Roach said.

“The mayor loved the location because it is in a real city neighborhood, one that is being revitalized thanks to the hard work of a lot of people in the community,” Roach said.

According to George, Sharma’s building is the largest blighted structure in the community and residents are sick of seeing it. He added it’s a hazard because there’s a bus stop on the Lahser side of the building.

Typically, business owners care for the areas outside their building, George said, but Blight Busters has had to care for the sidewalks as well.

“Last summer, parts of the billboard on his building fell and almost hit someone,” George said. “We just want the owner to be responsible for his property,” he said. “Find someone else to take care of the property.”