Fire breaks out in condemned building behind State Street in Ann Arbor

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By Darcie Moran | dmoran@mlive.com
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on November 02, 2015 at 2:27 PM, updated November 02, 2015 at 8:38 PM

A smoky fire broke out in an abandoned building Monday afternoon behind State Street in Ann Arbor.

No flames were visible as Ann Arbor firefighters poured water on the smoking rubble. A portion of State Street and Washington Street was closed.

Sava’s restaurant, which backs up to the property at 212 S. State St., also was evacuated.

The city had ordered the half-collapsed building demolished earlier this year.

The building is owned by Bloomfield Hills-based developer and real estate investor Howard Frehsee.

Frehsee recently bought a row of rental houses on Washington Street that back up to the blighted structure, which he has owned for more than a decade.

The blighted structure, or what’s left of it, is somewhat hidden in the middle of the block behind Sava’s Restaurant and the Michigan Theater.

It’s accessible from an alley off Liberty Street east of the Michigan Theater and from behind the row of houses on Washington Street that Frehsee purchased.

The barely recognizable structure housed the J.T. Abernathy Pottery Studios for many years. Frehsee said it was an old garage that was converted into a pottery shop.

In August, Frehsee said he was considering his options for redeveloping the string of properties he now owns on Washington Street and he planned to eventually clean up the blighted structure behind them. He also said he was working on a brownfield plan to demolish and clean up the property he purchased in September 2004. He said one of the reasons he hasn’t gotten to it yet is that he’s juggling other projects.

“We did update the city a while ago that we were trying to work on a plan for it. It’s a little more complicated than just cleaning it up,” he said.

“And that’s why it’s in the situation it’s in,” he added. “It’s fenced up. It’s safe unless someone wants to climb over the fence.”

 

Original post here: http://www.mlive.com/news/ann-arbor/index.ssf/2015/11/fire_breaks_out_in_condemned_b.html

 

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