Neglected Wurlitzer forces downtown coffee shop to get water from fire hydrant

1515 Broadway_0221

Wurlitzer_8766
Wurlitzer building

The city of Detroit won’t repair a broken water line that serves a downtown coffee shop and adjacent jewelry store because the neighboring high-rise would endanger workers.

The neglected Wurlitzer is in such bad shape that the Water and Sewerage Department won’t send a crew into the alley to fix the water line. So workers crudely rigged a fire hydrant with plastic hoses and duct tape to provide water to 1515 Broadway and Simmons & Clark Jewelers.

“It’s really dangerous,” Chris Jaszczak, owner of 1515 Broadway, told me as he pointed at the splayed, crumbling exterior of the Wurlitzer.

WurlitzerA few years ago, a chunk of the Wurlitzer crashed into Jaszczak’s second-floor loft, where he had been sleeping.

Now Jaszczak is worried that the hoses connected to the hydrant will freeze as the temperatures fall.

1515 Broadway_8845The Wurlitzer is owned by Wayne County Circuit Judge Daphne Mean Curtis and her husband Paul Curtis, who owe more than $20,000 in delinquent taxes, property records show. The city finally took the couple to court in November 2011, but Wayne County Judge Robert Colombo has done little to ensure the building is safe.

“It’s mind-boggling,” Jaszczak 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.