Restoration finally begins on 139-year-old mansion in the Cass Corridor

The James Scott Mansion is being converted into apartments. By Steve Neavling/MCM
The James Scott Mansion is being converted into apartments. By Steve Neavling/MCM

By Steve Neavling
Motor City Muckraker

After four decades of abandonment in the Cass Corridor, the crumbling James Scott Mansion is finally undergoing an ambitious makeover.

Crews are beginning to renovate the 139-year-old mansion at Peterboro and Cass.

Developer Joel Landy plans to convert the decaying, castle-like building into 27 apartments and retail space. The renovation is expected to be complete in late 2017.

Landy wants to restore the mansion to its original architectural details at a cost of roughly $7 million.

The building is just three block from the new Red Wings arena that is under construction.

The construction manager is Monahan Company, which also restored the Ashely apartments in downtown Detroit and the Garden Theater on Woodward.

Built in 1877, 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 inevitable 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.

It’s not yet clear how much Landy expects to charge for the apartments.

The project is just one of many that are under way as the Cass Corridor undergoes a sort of renaissance.

http://motorcitymuckraker.com/2016/01/19/photos-50-vacant-cass-corridor-buildings-whose-fate-likely-will-be-determined-in-2016/

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.

  • Donald E. Hodge

    Steve, Lets here it for The Brothers at Engine 32 who Rescued a 3 month old puppy named ” Murdoch”. Also PLEASE Someone go online and get an Adoption stated for this little guy. I would take him but my Black Leopard wouldn`t care much for him………well maybe with a little gravy. LOL PLEASE Check him out!

  • Donald E. Hodge

    If I had the money, I would spend every nickel I had To return Detroit to the time of the Beautiful buildings, and historic houses, that once stood in our city. Most of them are gone now. What a God Damn shame.

    • javierjuanmanuel

      Thats a nice idea, but if you go back in time, many or most were not historic then.

      We do not consider 1950s homes historic, and if you went back to tbe 50s, hardly anyone had love for homes that were from 1890-1910.

      • Donald E. Hodge

        Of course they wouldn`t be. that is why it is easy to say that now. I Just think most housing now is boring. Some one who had money back in lets say 1880 could build an amazing place. Quality was everything.

        • javierjuanmanuel

          I agree about 1890-1940 is where the good stuff is. People will not pay to make custom stuff like back in the day, labor was very cheap then

          • Donald E. Hodge

            yes, truly sad.

  • javierjuanmanuel

    I do not understand what is left to save, just the walls remain, right ?

    Why did this guy get 2.5 million (from the info on fb). This seems very wrong unless just anyone can get the government to whip out the check book and pay for half of any apartment building they want to build or fix up.

    In this case, it seems about 30 years to late. If all that remains is poorly maintained foundation and bricks, they would be better of knocking it over and building a new one that looks just like this. They are throwing good money after bad.

    • Mark Payne

      After owning two houses in this same area, both over 130 years old, I can tell you looks can be deceiving. These homes were built like castles. They simply can not be duplicated. Many projects down here were once just barely four walls. This is hardly throwing good money after bad if you are familiar with how things are going down here. The El Moore, the gothic mansion at Alexandrine and Second, and the Cass Plaza are perfect examples of the reuse of four walls. I just hope Joel doesn’t run into any more problems.

      • javierjuanmanuel

        Does it have a basement? If that sits with 4 ft of water for one month its toast.

        If the foundation is messed up, the walls not tied to anything, they are not structural, they get out of swuare and plumb, and no brick work for 50 years means the mortar has to be in terrible shape.

        I know of places down town that never lost the roof, and 15 years ago, they did 350k in brick work.

      • javierjuanmanuel

        By the way, i am not saying it is not beautiful, just 40 years to late.

        The money would be better spent by putting 120 roofs at $25,000. Or 100 at $30,000.

        All these old homes need water turned off, a good roof, windiw or boarded up the right way, not particle board, no gaps. Cutbto fit, painted, caulked.

        Anyways somethings are too far gone. Spend 3 mill on homes that still have original tile, wood carving, mantiles, ornate wet plaster, old growth hardwoods etc.

        Any mason could make the walls that remain, there is nothing special remaining

        • Whitepine63

          It has steel beams

  • Steve

    I’m confused. Is this gentrification or much-needed redevelopment. Will the area be renamed the Castle District?

    • Whitepine63

      Joel Landy has renovated there in that block with his own two hands, a few helpers and earlier his X wife. He has lived on that block 50 years and owned this building for almost just as long. He can accomplish more in one week on his own then most men do ever. I know. I am his X wife. No privilege here just hard debilitating work by him. The castle is historic. It is the James Scott mansion. The fountain on Belle Isle is the James Scott fountain. Joel has always restored historically. Younger folks are coming along to Detroit and criticizing those that were the latest pioneers. Check out Joel Landy

      • Donald E. Hodge

        Thank you for that information. that is a good man. And I am sure your just as wonderful :).

        • Whitepine63

          that is so very nice of you

      • javierjuanmanuel

        Why did he not put a roof on it way back when?

        • Whitepine63

          He did many times, vandals kept burning it

          • javierjuanmanuel

            What a shame.

      • Steve

        Thank you for the explanation, I meant no disrespect. Efforts like this restore the historical ‘bones’ of the city and should be commended. I will check out Joel Landy.

      • Blue Crow

        If you’re who I think you are (Birdlady), I have always believed that the man should have kept you and ditched the rest of his fortune. As I recall the last time I had seen you had been at Nancy Whiskey’s on December 31, 2005, shortly after you had gotten married again. I do sincerely hope that had worked out for you. Best Wishes, Always, (from a long time admirer)

        • Whitepine63

          Oh my goodness. Please Facebook me and tell me who you are. I remember that New Years Eve. I remember many people specifically. So much can happen in 11 years. Thank you for the kind wishes. All the best for you too kind stranger.

          • Blue Crow

            Then, maybe it is really YOU? I’ll give you a few more hints as to who I am. I had originally met you in the Third Street Saloon, in about 1985, and I would thereafter always tell you that you were the loveliest woman in the entire neighborhood. Then, maybe a couple of years later, when you had been moving into an apartment at Second & Hancock, I had helped move some books for you and you had informed me that you had always wanted to be a marine biologist. And, as I recall, you had also happened to be in the audience at the DIA when I saw what I still regard as by far the very BEST film I have ever seen (Trouble In Mind). Then, it must have been in the early 2000’s when I had happened upon you in the Cass Café and you had been were reading a thick legal book having to do with divorce. And, when you told me what was going on, I had of course responded: “Is he insane?’

            In any case, I don’t do Facebook and I don’t believe I know enough to find you there. But, if you wish, you should be able to find me at bluecrowone at juno dot com

          • Blue Crow

            Then, maybe it is really YOU? I’ll give you a few more hints as to who I am. I had originally met you in the Third Street Saloon, in about 1985, and I would thereafter always tell you that you were the loveliest woman in the entire neighborhood. Then, maybe a couple of years later, when you had been moving into an apartment at Second & Hancock, I had helped move some books for you and you had informed me that you had always wanted to be a marine biologist. And, as I recall, you had also happened to be in the audience at the DIA when I saw what I still regard as by far the very BEST film I have ever seen (Trouble In Mind). Then, it must have been in the early 2000’s when I had happened upon you in the Cass Café and you had been were reading a thick legal book having to do with divorce. And, when you told me what was going on, I had of course responded: “Is he insane?’

            In any case, I don’t do Facebook and I don’t believe I know enough to find you there. But, if you wish, you should be able to find me at bluecrowone at juno dot com

      • Steve

        Just read a Metro Times article on Joel. Thanks for the heads up. Sounds like quite the guy.

    • karl john

      There is NOTHING WRONG with gentrification.

    • karl john

      There is NOTHING WRONG with gentrification.

      • javierjuanmanuel

        Gentrification is just a nice way of saying europhobia.

        Also its a wink wink, that people who often never worked, never started a business, never took risk, never even bought super cheap depressed value homes …… should all share in the spoils if an areas luck turns around, no thanks to them.

        Its racism, and socialism.

        • Whitepine63

          Not racism. He had owned it for 40 years. The Eastside needs people to step in and renovate. Why don’t you be the first pioneer like Joel was in the Cass Corridor.