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Culture > Abandoned Structure Squad

Ladder days

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Published 6/29/2005

This sprawling three-story building at 9512-9520 Woodward Ave. in Detroit’s historic Arden Park-East Boston neighborhood has gone through many changes since its construction in 1915. Originally a working firehouse — Ladder 15 according to a Detroit firefighter’s historical Web site — the building became a nursing home in the 1960s. In fact, some of the waste and other medical supplies dating back to the house’s days as a nursing home are strewn across the back of the property. According to next-door neighbor LaDonna Walker-Little, who’s also president of the Arden Park-East Boston Historical District, the building has been abandoned for abut 30 years. During that time, the structure has been a haven for "squatters, drug use and prostitution," Walker-Little says. In fact, serial murder and rapist Benjamin (Tony) Atkins apparently carried out some of his crimes inside the building during his nine-month spree in 1991-92. Walker-Little says she has called the city constantly about the dangerous eyesore next door, which is on the route many kids take when walking to Northern High School. Frustrated by the city’s lack of response, Walker-Little and her husband have boarded up some of the building’s windows themselves. "This building is a huge safety issue for us, " Walker-Little says. "The back is filled with waste from the nursing home and it’s dangerous for the kids walking by." City of Detroit officials in the demolitions department tell ASS (you have heard of the Abandoned Structure Squad, haven’t you?) that while the city does have clearances to demolish the building, no actual date has been set for the bulldozers to roll. We’re also informed by our contact in the demo department that there’ are no complaints about the building on file.

Editor’s note: If you know of an abandoned home you would like to see featured in this spot, send a photo and pertinent information to News Hits, c/o Metro Times, 733 St. Antoine, Detroit, MI 48226 (or e-mail newshits@metrotimes.com).

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