No more excuses: Negligent owners begin removing hazards from Wurlitzer

Photos by Steve Neavling
Photos by Steve Neavling

After thumbing their noses at a judge’s orders for more than three years, the negligent owners of the Wurlitzer high-rise in downtown Detroit are finally removing dangling bricks and masonry from the abandoned building.

A crew hoisted by a crane began peeling off the loose exterior after Mayor Mike Duggan’s administration said enough is enough and urged Wayne County Judge Robert Colombo to order the owners – again – to remove the hazards.

In 2011, Colombo ordered the owners, Wayne County Circuit Judge Daphne Mean Curtis and her husband Paul Curtis, to remove the hazards after a loose chunk of exterior plunged through the second-floor roof of 1515 Broadway, a coffee shop and community theater. The 1515 Broadway owner, Chris Jaszczak, lives on the second floor and was sleeping when the debris crashed through his residence.


Debris has been falling ever since, but neither Mayor Dave Bing’s administration nor Colombo would enforce the order against the Curtises.

Times have changed. Mayor Duggan has been cracking down on neglectful business and home owners. City Corporation Counsel Butch Hollowell recently took the Curtises to court to enforce the order.

The Curtises were required to place $100,000 in an escrow account to clean up the hazards.

Work began Wednesday and is expected to take the rest of the week to complete.

“It’s such a relief,” 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.

  • JF

    I wonder if they will be made to pay for the repairs to other property such as the guy who got bricks through his roof. Anybody know, or does he just get screwed because of their negligence?

  • churchchurchliquorstore1

    If the court cannot make the deadbeat Judge fix her delapitated buildings how can the court enforce other deadbeat owners who aren’t on the payrole?

  • Magdalena Kopacz

    Is there a typo here? The owners are Wayne County Circuit Judge Daphne Mean Curtis and her husband Paul Curtis and Chris Jaszczak? Or do you mean Chris Jaszczak is a resident?

    • There’s no typo. The sentence that is probably confusing you is referring to the owner of the coffee shop, not the building in which it resides. I don’t know what it is called in English, but basically it’s some transitive property where the subject of the sentence is understood. The article is talking about the building, but the paragraph is talking about the coffee shop in the building.