City does nothing as dangerous scrapping operation continues on Detroit’s east side

Scavengers are illegally scrapping this building for metal.
Scavengers are illegally scrapping this building for metal.
One scrapper.
One scrapper

Update: Police and the mayor’s administration were headed to the building at 4:10 a.m. Click here to find out what happened

For months, scrappers have torn apart an asbestos-laden building on Detroit’s east side as city authorities looked the other way.

One day after we exposed the dangerous scrapping operation, which is spearheaded by Chicago-area investor Bill Hults, the scavengers are back at it today, brazenly using torches, an unattended fire and hydraulic lift in broad daylight.

They do not have permits to use torches or to scrap the building, according to the city.
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The unstable ceiling of the building at 6431 E. Palmer is propped up with chemical containers.

Nearby residents and workers fear they are in harm’s way.

Bill Hults
Bill Hults

“This is beyond outrageous,” said one resident who spoke on condition of anonymity because the scavengers threatened him with violence. “I don’t know what to do anymore. I’m beside myself.”
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Police also have been mum on the issue and haven’t responded to at least three 911 calls in the past week. The Fire Department has been called there at least twice in the same period to extinguish fires.
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Hults purchased 17 commercial buildings and houses in the Wayne County auction last year and hasn’t paid a penny on taxes, owing more than $29,000.

Hults, who moved into a home in the suburbs, hasn’t returned our calls for comment.

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.