Jul 24, 2023 - Development

Detroit by Drone: Historic Chinatown building faces demolition

3143 Cass Ave.

The building at 3143 Cass Ave. is set to be demolished. Photos: Samuel Robinson/Axios

There's fresh criticism facing the planned demolition of a historic building that used to be a staple of Detroit's old Chinatown neighborhood.

Why it matters: Sitting between the old Chung's building and the former site of Gold Dollar Bar, the unique urban structure tells a long story of change in the city.

  • "It's an essential building to the area," resident Francis Grunow, chair of District Detroit's first neighborhood advisory council from 2014-19, tells Axios. "It has a real presence on Cass Avenue."

Driving the news: The city issued a demolition permit last month for 3143 Cass Ave., now owned by the Ilitch family's Olympia Development, Crain's reports.

  • Grunow wrote to City Clerk Janice Winfrey last week asking for a historic designation request as a last-ditch effort to try and save the building from demolition.

What they're saying: "These are exactly the kinds of buildings that could contribute to the kind of place that the Ilitches say they want and they're destroying them," Grunow says. "The street wall, the brickwork — they don't make them like that anymore … We're waiting for them to create value on the ground and all they create is vacant lots."

  • A local demolition contractor has been awarded the demolition, Olympia said.

Zoom in: The back side of the structure is an old home that's had an exposed roof for years.

  • The area used to be full of impressive homes and the occasional mansion, but they have since disappeared.

What's next: Grunow's interim designation would need support from City Council for the city to order a halt to the demolition.

The building sits between the old Chung's restaurant near The Peterboro and Detroit Shipping Co.
The building sits between the old Chung's restaurant near The Peterboro and Detroit Shipping Co.
The back side of the building.
The back side of the building facing east toward Cass and Peterboro.
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