After four decades of abandonment in the Cass Corridor, the crumbling James Scott Mansion appears to be on the verge of an ambitious makeover.
The Detroit Historic District Commission last week approved a developer’s rehabilitation plans to convert the 138-year-old building into about two dozens lofts at 81 Peterboro, which is just three blocks from the site of the new Red Wings arena.
Owner Joel Landy, who also redeveloped the nearby Addison Building and Burton Theatre, plans to spend about $7 million on a project that will require considerable rehabilitation. He has secured $2.6 million in state and historic tax credits.
Built in 1878, the mansion served as the private residence of James Scott, a wealthy and eccentric bachelor, gambler and real estate heir. When he died in 1910, the mansion was turned into apartments and then abandoned in the 1970s.
Since then, demolition appeared to be an inevitably because of severe neglect. The roof and many of the floors have collapsed. And a homeless man discovered body parts in an outside stairwell in 2008.
If Landy can make it work, the lofts are certain to be popular. Developers are turning abandoned buildings into apartments and restaurants in the Cass Corridor at unprecedented rates as construction begins on a $650 million Red Wings arena and entertainment district.
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.