Mysterious owner who’s evicting residents from Cass Corridor apartments miffs everyone

Nathaniel Conners_20130515“One’s dignity may be assaulted, vandalized and cruelly mocked, but cannot be taken away unless it is surrendered.” – Michael J. Fox

Nathaniel Conners thought he’d be thrown out today.

After all, that’s when he and hundreds of others were ordered to vacate three apartment buildings on Henry Street in the Cass Corridor.

Speculated to be the site of a new Red Wings arena and one of the starkest examples of gentrification in Detroit, the apartments have garnered a lot of attention.

But no one – not the media, city leaders or tenants – has been able to glean information about the owner or the plans for the properties.

“This ain’t right,” Conners, 57, told me outside his building. “People with money can get away with anything. We don’t matter to them.”

As part of the foreclosure process, pro-bono attorneys are representing the tenants in court next month. They don’t expect to prevail, but they can buy time for the tenants to find a new place to live.

cass apartments 20130506_6026Many of the resident are disabled and elderly and have lived in the apartment buildings for more than 15 years. On a recent evening, the tenants met on the front lawn with community activists who pledged to help them find resources to move.

“We’ll make sure your voices are given the dignity you deserve,” Richard Feldman, a longtime community and labor activist, told the tenants. “No matter what they do, they can’t take away your dignity. They can never have that.”

Tenant Charlie Bolden, 61, agreed.

“Giving up is easy, but we need to stand together and show we’re willing to fight for ourselves,” Bolden said.


Steve Neavling

Steve Neavling lives and works in Detroit as an investigative journalist. His stories have uncovered corruption, led to arrests and reforms and prompted FBI investigations.