Intermittent homeless people stayed at the three-story redbrick building on an otherwise abandoned, graffiti-tagged block on Temple. Rates were by the hour, day or week.
To the outsider, it was just another blighted building in a forlorn section of Detroit’s notorious Cass Corridor.
But as most of us now know, the hotel is in the shadow of Mike Ilitch’s entertainment empire that will include a new Detroit Red Wings arena. The hotel was appraised at $81,400, but DTE recently purchased the building for more than $3 million, according to people familiar with the deal.
The purchase price is an early sign of the times to come. Cass Corridor, which is considered the missing link between Midtown and downtown, is home to many low income residents who have come to depend on the safety net around them – hospitals, soup kitchens, mental health services, low-income housing.
Investors and developers, however, are hoping to cash in on the entertainment district by buying up property, including low-income apartment buildings. A mysterious investor evicted hundreds of residents from three federally subsidized apartment buildings earlier this year, but backed out after many tenants already left.
The entertainment district leaves the Cass Corridor especially vulnerable to gentrification. Restaurants and boutiques are expected to open, and apartment buildings could be converted into condos.
George Jackson, president and CEO of the Detroit Economic Growth Corporation, said earlier this year that he welcomes gentrification. We will be following this issue carefully.
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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.