Prevent the Demolition of the Hotel Ansonia and Atlanta Apartments!
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We urge you to take action to preserve the Hotel Ansonia, the Atlanta Apartments, and other historic buildings in the Cass Corridor / "The District Detroit."
In 2015, Olympia Development of Michigan (ODM) committed to the rehab of 15 historic buildings in the arena district after the Historic District Commission granted a Certificate of Approval for the demolition of the Park Avenue Hotel. Recently, Olympia announced plans for the rehabilitation of four historic buildings in the Cass Corridor — an ambitious commitment that we applaud.
However, we remain dismayed by ongoing demolitions in the arena district, which have further eroded the historic character of the neighborhood. We have recently learned of plans to demolish the Hotel Ansonia and Atlanta Apartments, situated at the at the corner of Cass Avenue and Henry Street. A City of Detroit Building Safety Engineering and Environmental Department (BSEED) inspection report written on April 18, 2017 indicated that the buildings are "blighted, vacant, and open to trespass" and not being "reasonably maintained."
Far from an excuse to demolish the properties, this report should be taken as a call to action to hold the property owners accountable for the condition of the buildings they own.
In his recent keynote address at the Mackinac Policy Conference, Mayor Duggan included a set of principles to guide Detroit's development and avoid the mistakes of the past. Among these principles was that blight removal is critical — but that we must save every building we can.
Historic and architecturally significant buildings in the Cass Corridor, including the Hotel Ansonia and the Atlanta Apartments, can and should be preserved. The arena and the QLine have already generated remarkable economic activity and development demand in the area. Founder's Brewing Co. chose a historic Cass Corridor building for its new taproom. From the Scott Mansion on Peterboro to Cass Plaza at Cass and MLK, buildings in the neighborhood that seemed "too far gone" just a few years ago have been completely rehabbed and returned to productive economic life.
We respectfully ask City Council the following:
Create an interim historic designation for Cass-Henry, a proposed local historic district that would include the Hotel Ansonia and the Atlanta Apartments. This is the only intact block of early 20th-century historic buildings in the Corridor, and it should be studied, documented and preserved.
Hold Olympia to their promise to maintain the historic character of Cass Park. We applaud ODM’s recently announced plans for building rehabilitation and reuse, but they must make public their plans and timelines for redevelopment of the many other vacant historic properties they own in the Arena District and downtown Detroit. As the recipient of hundreds of millions of dollars in taxpayer subsidies, we ask you to hold Olympia accountable for the condition of each property they own.
Move forward with urgency on a comprehensive and long-term preservation plan for the City of Detroit as a tool to evaluate future proposed demolitions and to avoid the shortsighted demolition of irreplaceable architectural resources and the further erosion of the historic character of our neighborhoods.
Thank you for your consideration.
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