Judge – finally – orders Wurlitzer owners to safeguard crumbling building


The crumbling brick exterior of the Wurlitzer in downtown Detroit has been falling for more than a decade. Chunks have crashed into a second-floor loft and rained down on an alley.

It has gotten so bad that the Detroit Water and Sewerage Department has refused to send a crew to fix a broken water line in the alley that serves a coffee shop and jewelry store.

Finally, a court has ordered the owners, Wayne County Circuit Judge Daphne Mean Curtis and her husband Paul Curtis, to remove loose bricks from the building so workers can fix the water line. They also were required to place $100,000 in an escrow account, which they have done, according to Mayor Mike Duggan’s administration.

1515 Broadway_0221For now, 1515 Broadway and Simmons & Clark Jewelers are receiving their water from a crudely rigged fire hydrant.

The city filed a nuisance abatement lawsuit against the owners “because falling bricks from the structure are a danger to the life and safety of the public,” said Butch Hollowell, corporation counsel for the city.

Wayne County Judge Robert Colombo, who has done little to ensure the building is safe, granted the city’s motion.

Hollowell said the work is expected to be complete it about two weeks.

“Once the remediation work is completed and the site is safe, the Department of Water & Sewerage will make the necessary water main repairs and restore proper service to the businesses on Broadway,” Hollowell 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.