Chinese company neglects another art deco gem in downtown Detroit as skyscraper floods

David StottThe towering art deco David Stott Building in downtown Detroit was submerged in two stories of water Wednesday after pipes burst in what looks like yet another cautionary tale of abandonment.

Crews were draining 2 million gallons of water from the 38-story building bought by Chinese developer, DDI Group, in late 2013 for $9.4 million. According to two sources familiar with the flood, the company failed to properly protect the building from the cold and didn’t know pipes burst until the second floor was under water.

It’s not yet clear how extensive the damage is. An engineer is expected to look at the building after the water is drained.

In November, we revealed that DDI Group neglected another vacant art deco gem, the historic Free Press building, which is now covered in black mold after pipes burst. DDI Group paid $4.2 million for the Albert Kahn-designed building but has been slow to secure it from trespassers.

Free Press Building
Old Free Press building in downtown Detroit. Steve Neavling/MCM.

DDI acquired the buildings in an online auction in late 2013. At the time, the company pledged to spend $50 million to begin transforming the Free Press building into apartments with retail space in the fall of 2014. It never happened, despite historic tax credits worth about $22 million.

When DDI Group bought the David Stott, one big tenant was left – the Sky Bar. But the company left after saying DDI Group was neglecting the building and failing to maintain the elevators, which often malfunctioned with customers inside.

DDI Group, which is baed in Shangai, didn’t return calls for comment.

The David Stott opened in 1929 and has been predominately vacant since 2010.

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.

  • chuckdamage

    Get those banners off of the John King bookstore, but leave the Chinese Millionaires alone

  • Peter Lomax

    Bring back Kwame! At least then the news was more interesting…

  • Harry Palmer

    This is an area of city government where Duggan can show some real improvement in.
    When these properties are bought, whether by Illitch “straw buyers”, foreign investors or anyone else, the city should be on the owner’s back to make sure they’re either being redeveloped, or “mothballed” to make sure they’re secure from scrappers and weather, (also that taxes are up to date).
    Detroit has lost too many architecturally important buildings, time for the city to come down on these big $$$ slum lords.

    • javierjuanmanuel

      How could they possibly do that legally when that is the exact opposite of the way the city treats property it is using (see police headquarters which will have to be knocked down), or the 30-70,000 properties the city owns and neglects.

      What you are saying sounds nice, its not bad, but that is not what the city does.

      If illitch is buying property to build an arena you want him to keep up things he is going to knock down?

      Does any government do that with say airport expansion, or freeways, or schools or parks?

      Detroit will not even cut the grass at a park ! Much less tend to houses for ten years it plans to knock down and build a dump, or a school or whatever.

  • churchchurchliquorstore1

    Can’t wait to park there!

  • Michele

    So sad to see this part of Detroit get hurt because neglect. The buildings should be repossessed due to neglect and city owned. Then the city can sell them to a US developer with a contract perhaps to require building improvements. I would have loved to live in the Free Press.

    • javierjuanmanuel

      Yeah that will solve it. Detroit owns and neglects something like an uncountable number of properties, they do not even know, its maybe 70,000. All neglected.

      Show me what city agency goes up and levels driveways, fixes small roof holes so they do not become larger, fixes leaning fences, patches bricks, replace busted windows etc.

      They will not even haul the garbage away in the street in many places over the years.

      Not a fan of Chinese beyond individual chinese people, fine, investment groups, or anything backed in china, or chinese government owned companies etc are all trash. But your acting like the city takes great care of things. There were schools built pre war, they tended to them for a while, by the late 60s they stopped, they used them till the 80s-90s and had full schools tons of money, and did nothing to the schools.

      There are dozens of schools where everytime it rained, you could hear water running down the inside of walls like a river !

  • banmar

    This is a clear-cut case of demolition by neglect, just like the Free Press mold infiltration.

  • Pamela Hairyhogan

    I called the manger of DDI, Ho Lee Fuch, spoke to his assisstan Wai To Lo and got no answers.

    • Jill Drnek

      Trashy racist comment. Make the world a better place, STFU