Mysterious investor demolishes century-old homes to make way for Red Wings development area

Temple Street
These homes on Temple Street were demolished Monday.

Crews demolished a trio of Cass Corridor homes that are more than a century old to make way for development in the shadow of the new Red Wings arena.

But a lot of questions remain. Two of the abandoned houses on Temple Street and Woodward were purchased in May 2009 for $650,000 by Victorian Rentals LLC. The company had already owned the other house. State records identify David Jarvis as the registered agent for Victorian Rentals. Trouble is, Jarvis said Tuesday morning he was only a “bit player” a long time ago and hasn’t been involved with the properties and has no idea why they were demolished.

“I actually have no personal knowledge of this,” Jarvis told me. “I truly don’t know. I haven’t been involved in a long time.”

Temple St. demoSo what’s going on? Crews at the scene wouldn’t comment, nor would attorneys for Miller Canfield.

“Miller Canfield is notorious for working with wealthy real estate investors who have a large portfolio,” a local real estate developer told me.

The house at 56 Temple was built in 1864, making it one of the oldest homes in the city. It was owned by John F. Munro, a popular surveyor who laid out many of the streets and parcels in Midtown and Corktown. It was a gas-lit home in what was then on the outskirts of Detroit.

52 Temple Street
52 Temple St.

The middle property, 52 Temple, was a blonde brick Romanesque house built in the 1890s.

The final house, 46 Temple, was converted into apartments in the 1990s but was run into the ground by bad tenants. It also was home to a serial killer “who slaughtered several people and left the bodies to be discovered in the property years later,” according to Treasures of Detroit.

DTE Energy purchased the adjacent Temple Hotel for more than $3 million and demolished it this summer.

Mike Illitch, the billionaire who owns the Red Wings arena, and some of fellow investors gobbled up a lot of properties in the Cass Corridor and let them languish, creating the illusion that the area was a dead zone for development. But because of secret deals such as the one on Temple Street, it’s often impossible to know the investors involved.

The city rewarded those investors by pouring $285 million of public dollars into the $650 million project to build a new Red Wings arena and entertainment district.

Take a look at the arena groundbreaking.

The Comet Bar, a Cass Corridor staple, closed recently after it was purchased because of the arena and adjacent development.

 

 

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.