Russell Industrial Center tenants petition city to avoid costly closure



With an eviction deadline fast approaching, artisans and business owners at the Russell Industrial Center are urging Detroit officials to help them stave off a shut down they say will in some cases cost tenants an upward of $100,000.

A #SaveTheRussell petition that has so far collected more than a thousand signatures aims to show Mayor Mike Duggan's office that people "do not want to see longstanding local Detroit artisans and businesses be put out of work."

Detroit's buildings and safety department posted eviction notices throughout the sprawling complex last week following a failed Feb. 9 inspection. At issue were walls made of combustible materials and illegally installed heating and plumbing systems. The city said the operators of the Russell had also failed to obtain proper permits to construct commercial and residential units.

Petition drafter Allison Key says city officials have so far been unwilling to compromise and keep the facility open while code violations are rectified. Russell tenants and a property manager have told Metro Times repairs are indeed underway.

"We have an architect and his team working almost twenty-four hours a day to get updated drawings to help us get a stay," said Russell project manager Eric Novack. "We also continue to work on the violations given to us with a number already corrected."

Novack says tenants have been moving out. One business owner apparently had to spend $20,000 to do so. Others, the petition says, will have to pay six figures to rebuild their businesses in new locations.

The more than 140 tenants of the complex have been told they have until Tuesday to vacate.