Updated Aug 9, 2022 - News

House fire near LCA raises eyebrows

"Holdout house" on Cass Avenue behind Little Caesars Arena.
What's left of the holdout house on Cass Avenue behind Little Casars Arena. Photo: Sam Robinson/Axios

The last remaining residential property near Little Caesars Arena has been destroyed by a fire.

Why it matters: The area where the property resides was mostly bought out by the Ilitch family prior to the construction of the more than $860 million arena.

  • The owner of the house that turned to rubble Monday morning before dawn is one of the final holdouts not to sell.

The intrigue: The house is still for sale, real estate agent Darren Johnson, whose name was listed on the home for years, tells Axios. The woman who owns the property acquired a different agent and listed it for $2.5 million, he said.

  • It had been previously listed at $4.9 million as recently as 2018, the Free Press reports.
  • The house had been due for demolition and was being sold as vacant land. "It will still be sold as vacant land listed at $2.5 million," the owner of the company now selling the property told the Free Press.

What they're saying: Longtime residents don't think the fire was an accident.

  • "I don't think anybody in their right mind would just say, 'I don't like this house, I'ma burn it down,'" Uraina Fisher, who lives a few blocks away from the house, tells Axios. "The Ilitches have been bothering them a long time for this property."
  • "There were about 30 firefighters in the street. About eight trucks, and only one truck was dousing it with water — the rest of them were just standing out there," Fisher said.
  • Detroit Fire Department officials declined to comment at yesterday's scene and could not be reached over the phone.

💭Sam's thought bubble: Edmoun Spears, a neighbor and one of the people I spoke to yesterday, said he'd been inside the house as a kid and grew an appreciation for the owner's reluctance to sell it.

  • To Spears and his neighbors, the house represented the local resistance against the Ilitches' District Detroit.
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