Historic building in Detroit’s old Chinatown demolished despite community’s effort to save it

Historic building in Detroit’s old Chinatown demolished despite community’s effort to save it
Michelle De Pacina
July 31, 2023
A 140-year-old historic building in Detroit’s former Chinatown was demolished despite efforts from the Asian American community and the city council to save it.
The demolition: The two-story building located at 3143 Cass Ave. was completely razed on Saturday after the city issued a demolition citation in May, according to The Detroit News.
Saving the building: Asian American advocates and preservationists had been trying to save the building since May. Last week, the city council reportedly voted to pause the demolition for a historical and cultural review. 
“For many Asian Americans in and around the city of Detroit, this building represents where many of their relatives first placed their roots,” State Sen. Stephanie Chang wrote in a letter to city officials. “Located in the center of what is historically known as Chinatown, this property began as a residence in 1883 and was eventually purchased by the Chinese Merchants Association in 1963.”
Overruling the city council: However, the city’s corporation counsel overruled the city’s decision, noting that the council resolution lacked “legal impact.”
“Without proper designation as an historic district, the City must proceed with addressing blight in the interest of public health and safety,” Corporation Counsel Conrad Mallett said, according to The Detroit News.
“Dangerous building”: In 2018, city officials declared the old building “dangerous,” having a partially collapsed roof and interior damages. The vacant building has reportedly been owned by individuals linked to Olympia Development of Michigan since 2004.
Olympia Development reportedly agreed to demolish the building and hired demolition contractor Farrow Group Inc. to do so. 
“In addition to the recent approval of 10 new and historic developments in The District Detroit, we continue to work closely with the City of Detroit on developing a broader plan for all our real estate holdings,” Olympia spokesperson Allison Gabrys told Detroit Free Press
Now that the building has been demolished, advocates reportedly plan to hold a news conference on Monday to discuss plans for the location.
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