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  1. #26

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    The problem is at the end of the day it all needs to be paid for,extended stay hotels of the past and even buy a house and chop it up into cheap sleeping rooms sharing a kitchen and bath days are past.

    The extended stay hotels and the houses that I mentioned were created out of demand for housing in an rapidly expanding city at the time,just like many other cities.But while they were okay in the 60s and 70s they aged and the upkeep became expensive.

    Then the drug times came in and they became a haven for crime which even further sealed their fate.Then zoning came into play as another tool to remove the desirable.

    It is one thing not to be hung up on material possessions but without a basic roof over ones head it becomes a life of being transient based.

    It is an interesting conundrum considering the costs of everything but shared housing has always existed,buy a large house and rent out the rooms,but the days of flop houses are over even though they served a need it became more of a collective which did not bode well with neighbors.

    Places like the Blues ship,Russel,Packard are one of many that come and go,their whole concept is not based on a long term aspect so their life span by nature is short.

    Artist collectives in large old buildings will only last until the value of the property dictates another use then they are gone,to not have a wish for material possessions is okay but it also must be understood is that in that mindset one is controlled by something worse and that is your life is dictated by others.

    One does not need a million dollar house or a brand new car,$500 sneakers or whatever one only needs a stable roof over their head and be able to pay their own way,that is the difference in being hung up on material possessions and being at the point where your daily life is in essence dictated by others.

    It is not disrespectful and if someone is comfortable in that form more power to them,kinda like the days with the Hobo train hoppers,it did not make them bad people they just had a different outlook on life.

    Not sure what the answer is,life has compromises,one just needs to find that balance that they are comfortable with,but with all of those creative artists in one place you would think that they could come up with a creative idea that would work,that is a lot of brain power in one spot.Somebody had to come up with the youth hostel aspect which seems to work well.

    That whole Blues ship thing has had a major impact across the county and has sealed the fate of Russel and any other large industrial building in similar situations,the crackdown is happening in every city and it started the day after.
    Last edited by Richard; February-22-17 at 01:50 PM.

  2. #27

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    I would imagine that the Oakland incident suddenly put the fear of God into a lot of code compliance and fire inspection folks in cities all over the US. They immediately went from casual enforcement to very strict enforcement and Russell just got caught in the squeeze. You really can't blame the city as an Oakland type incident would be really bad for their reputation.

  3. #28

    Default Russell Industrial Center CLOSED FOR GOOD!!!

    The Russell Industrial Center home to lots of Bohemian artists will be closing its doors for good. Detroit city inspectors had found tons of violations that are deemed potential fire hazards. The slumlord Dennis Kellifinos who owns the building is devasted. Lots of artists will have pack their stuff and move out.

    This is truly a total loss!!!

    Here is the source.

    http://www.freep.com/story/news/loca...osed/98189582/


    I would hope that someone or maybe Dan Gilbert will come to the rescue.

  4. #29

  5. #30

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    Quote Originally Posted by Danny View Post
    re is the source.

    http://www.freep.com/story/news/loca...osed/98189582/

    I would hope that someone or maybe Dan Gilbert will come to the rescue.
    Someone from Warren MI is of offering alternative warehouse space in the 'comments' section of that Freep article. Check it out - it may be a viable option. Could be a crank though too.

  6. #31

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    There are major differences between Russel Industrial Center and Oakland's "Ghost Ship". The Ghost Ship was basically a wooden structure within cinder block walls. Russel Industrial Center is an "industrial" poured concrete structure, a majority of the sections are separated by fire doors. That said, the building does contain wooden walls and items that will burn, if they catch on fire, but a disaster on the scale of Oakland, is unlikely. Given the speed and finality of the bum's rush and closure with which Russel Industrial Center was handled, I can't help wondering if someone with some money and clout doesn't have their eye on that building.


    http://russellindustrialcenter.com/exhibition/


    Name:  Ghost Ship.JPG
Views: 526
Size:  99.4 KB

  7. #32

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    Quote Originally Posted by Crystal View Post
    When I heard about Oakland's "Ghost Ship" fire in December, my thoughts immediately turned to Russell. It seems insincere for any Russell manager or tenant to claim they were caught off guard.

    Structures with code violations, whether occupied or not, put first responders at increased risk if there is a fire or other emergency.

    Maybe now would be a good time to remind that 36 died in the Oakland fire.
    Thanks for the reminder. 36 lives lost. Russell Industrial certainly bears similarities.

    Fire safety is crucial. So if fair and reasonable code enforcement. My experience with DFD fire marshals was mixed. Some fine. Some just rule-followers who wouldn't see the real hazard unless it was wrapped in whatever rule they happened to remember.

    RI needed to be shut down. Oakland was a loud reminder. I also hope that DFD's enforcement was reasonable, and that they looked at what it might take to provide public safety without knee-jerk adherence to rules over goals.

  8. #33

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    This is the perfect platform to help launch the city's training program for new electricians, plumbers, and carpenters. Hell, it could be the perfect training program for the new inspectors needed to cover all of the new construction in town!

    The city is handling this whole deal horribly. They are wrong for putting everyone out, when this place is a whole universe away from that firetrap in Oakland, CA.

  9. #34

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    Here is a link to an old discussion about Keffalinos. It was 2007 when the residents of what became Milwaukee Junction were evicted. Back in the dirty Kwhyme dayz.

    http://www.atdetroit.net/forum/messa...tml?1180537124

  10. #35

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    Quote Originally Posted by Gannon View Post
    This is the perfect platform to help launch the city's training program for new electricians, plumbers, and carpenters. Hell, it could be the perfect training program for the new inspectors needed to cover all of the new construction in town!

    The city is handling this whole deal horribly. They are wrong for putting everyone out, when this place is a whole universe away from that firetrap in Oakland, CA.
    Good call, John, I like your idea! Of course this is Detroit, envelopes with money talks, citizens needs walk.

  11. #36

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    There is almost no similarity between the Ghost Ship and Russel.

    Russel has poured concrete floors, columns and ceilings.

    I've been through there and attended functions there.

    There are walls along the corridors that contain wood,.. but that's not a code violation. Wooden studs are fine. The plywood over them in places is,.. but removing that and installing drywall would fix that quickly, and for a pretty reasonable cost. Probably need to be at least 5/8" fire-rated.

    The electrical is another issue,.. as is access to fire-escapes. I wasn't taking notes,.. but it seemed like a long walk to get to the end of a hall. You wouldn't want to have to go to awfully far to get to a stair or a fire escape if a fire started.

    People complain about the landlord,.. call him slumlord,.. and say they have complaints when they lived in one of his buildings, etc.

    But there's a reason why they were there. It was cheap. If everything was brought to current code,.. the price would be double,. and they would be out on the streets / out of business.

    And being grandfathered in to some degree,.. the place just need to meet code from way back,.. and not be a fire hazard.

    I can't see why the plywood couldn't be replaced with drywall over the next 6 months,.. and the electrical upgraded over the next few years so the tenants can continue to have a place to operate their fledgling businesses.

    Unless as Honkey Tonk's suspicion is right,.. and there's someone with clout that wants the property.

  12. #37

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    There's a lot more to this saga than is being leaked to the press.

    I believe before the day is over the owner will be given an extended period of time to bring the place into compliance with those valid code violations (many aren't.)

  13. #38

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    Dennis Kellifinos who owns the place should be ashamed of himself for kicking artists their business to the curb!!!! He is Detroit's worst slumlord ever! You made that building into a instant fire hazard!

    Mr Boileau, I think it's time to move your D-YES business out of the Michigan Building immediately.

  14. #39

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    Can someone confirm the "purpose" of these lofts? Is it a wink and a nod that allows people to sleep there? I have a feeling it's advertised as a place to do your art or for your band to rehearse and no one is supposed to be living there. Not judging, just curious because without two means of egress you can't sell something as a sleeping room as far as I'm aware.

  15. #40

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    A few years back when I inquired about purchasing or leasing space for the sole purpose of converting it into residential, and a small workshop, I was told no. My guess is people looked the other way.
    Last edited by Honky Tonk; February-24-17 at 03:29 PM.

  16. #41

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    The sleeping thing would be VERY tough to police.

    Does Russel even have hours? I would presume it doesn't really ever "close". So that if an artist works odd hours and does his/her art in the middle of the night,.. they could.

    And some might only work there occasionally,.. but when they do,.. it might be for a day or three straight.

    And unless you're going to have set hours,.. and then have guards with master keys,.. and have them go into every single unit at the end of the day and search the place,... there really isn't any way to know if someone is still in there sleeping.

  17. #42

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    Quote Originally Posted by Bigdd View Post
    The sleeping thing would be VERY tough to police.

    Does Russel even have hours? I would presume it doesn't really ever "close". So that if an artist works odd hours and does his/her art in the middle of the night,.. they could.

    And some might only work there occasionally,.. but when they do,.. it might be for a day or three straight.

    And unless you're going to have set hours,.. and then have guards with master keys,.. and have them go into every single unit at the end of the day and search the place,... there really isn't any way to know if someone is still in there sleeping.
    I do most of my writing and artwork at night, so if I had a workspace like Russel, I probably would have slept there more often than not.

  18. #43

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    After 5 business days has anything been done to correct some of the violations?

    A quick search on Dennis Kefallinos shows that he isn't a destitute property owner, he clearly has resources. What are his intentions? If he places his tenants front and center to fight the city on this it will demonstrate his willingness to let them fall on the sword. If he has brought in contractors and started repairs it shows he is taking the city's position far more seriously now than in the past after the threat of shutdown.

    One thing is obvious. The city has more power to assert its control over its domain than it used to. Whether or not everyone likes it, as in this situation, it is supposed to be that way when if comes to public safety.

  19. #44

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    They shut down one of 7 buildings because they smelled natural gas.

    Forget about a fire,gas has a tendency to go boom and level buildings pretty quick.

    So did the tenants also smell gas and ignored it?

    Food truck was in Philadelphia,coustmers warned the owners they smelled gas but did nothing,minutes later it went boom and mother and daughter died.

  20. #45

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    We can learn a lot about what may be happening here, and how to address it, from countless similar experiences in New York. This kind of thing happens there all the time.

    Landlords rent their shabby lofts to artists and makers willing to risk the dangers and suffer the discomforts for the additional space and the ability to make the noise and smells their crafts require. For some reason city inspectors ignore the violations. The makers form a community, organize events, and attract more to the neighborhood. Creativity happens. Businesses open. Property values increase. The landlords and their klans usually own many others in the vicinity so for them it's win win win. Then once the landlord determines the time is right to do something different with the building, rather than mount the massive effort it would take to remove his tenants one by one a city inspector suddenly pays attention to all the violations and evicts evacuates everyone all at once. Literally overnight.

    I know several artists who lost their homes and work places there this way. Always a fire code violation. Always an immediate evacuation. For some reason often at night during the middle of winter when it couldn't be worse for the tenants. And with only one exception I'm aware of, the building was always promptly renovated, brought up to code, and marketed to the wealthy.

    Dumbo is a neighborhood of 19th century warehouses and factories along the East River in Brooklyn with spectacular views of Manhattan. During the 90's it was filled with artists' lofts — even in a stinking recycling center. Many fire code evacuations later, Dumbo is today the domain of bankers and other wankers. The first ones tried to convince themselves they shared some of the bohemian quality of the neighborhood. Most today just enjoy the views and proximity to their office. The bohemian quality is all but gone.

    Artists and makers retreat further into the boroughs. The cycle repeats itself.

    475 Kent in South Williamsburg is the most famous example in NYC of live-work lofts that were suddenly evacuated due to fire code violations. In addition to a host of other problems, including a broken sprinkler system, one of the landlords put a matzos factory in the basement and all the flour dust was an explosion waiting to happen. He was one of the most influential members of the local community. Fire inspectors looked the other way for years. Then just when Williamsburg gentrification had crept its way South into the vicinity, and right around the time the owner of the diamond cutting fortress a block away decided to shut down, move upstate, and sell his giant property to a residential real estate developer, fire inspectors suddenly decided to enforce the fire code. It happened on a 21 degree Sunday night for maximum shock and awe. You can read the account by the tenants association here.

    Usually in cases like these it seems all but certain the fire inspectors are in cahoots with the landlords. Tenants almost always lack the resources, time, and other wherewithal to defeat wealthy and well-connected NYC landlords — especially when it's the city who padlocked the door. This case is famous not just because of the size of the building but because unlike so many others the tenants and landlords managed to cooperate. The tenants at 475 Kent were particularly close-knit and organized, and many pitched in whatever influence and experience they had from their own careers. I don't know whether that's why this time it was different, whether the landlords truly wanted to do right all along, or anything else that happened behind the scenes. But the landlord and tenants mutually addressed the violations, and several months later most tenants were able to return. Everyone seems very happy how it worked out. From what I saw, and seemingly every other account, this building was special.

    The end to this story is incredibly uncommon in a city where landlords have been playing dirty tricks — especially with illegal live-work loft spaces — since, oh, forever. In SoHo, Tribeca, elsewhere downtown, then Dumbo, Williamsburg, and so on…

    It could be that Kefallinos is playing a trick he learned from scumbag New York landlords. Or it could be he'll address the most important violations and people can return. Even if the RIC is re-opened only for work spaces that's a much better outcome than closing the whole place down. Maybe he can be convinced to cooperate with tenants to bring it up to code for residences. It would be a big help if the Mayor or any other people of influence within city government helped push for this.

    Maybe it's wishful thinking to even consider that's something any government official would be willing to do. Or maybe not. In 1982 New York passed a law that offered tenants in illegally converted lofts a path toward official recognition of their residences. It has helped preserve historic buildings and bring them up to code, helped provide people the necessary space for all sorts of creative pursuits, and has helped provide vitality to neighborhoods. Makers make better neighborhoods. Pretty soon everyone else wants in. It was great for the city overall.

    In any case I feel for the people who lost their work spaces and maybe even their home and their livelihoods when the RIC was vacated. For all its flaws, I understand how it offered important opportunities that are hard to find. I hope something here inspires ideas how you may be able to recover your losses, or even cooperate — with or without the landlord — to get your spaces back. Or I hope you bring something better together.

    City Evacuates 11-Story Building in Brooklyn, Citing Safety
    http://www.nytimes.com/2008/01/21/nyregion/21loft.html

    475 Kent
    http://www.edwardwinkleman.com/2008/01/475-kent.html

    After Evacuation, Artists Begin an Effort to Save Their Haven
    http://www.nytimes.com/2008/02/10/ny...0building.html

    Loft Life in a Building Once Evacuated Over Matzos
    https://www.nytimes.com/2014/01/07/n...er-matzos.html

    An Apartment Affair
    http://www.nytimes.com/2009/03/15/re...apartment.html

    NYC.gov Loft Board
    http://www.nyc.gov/html/loft/html/home/home.shtml
    Last edited by bust; February-25-17 at 03:06 AM.

  21. #46

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    No surprise, Kefallinos has had many other issues as Crain's documents.

    http://www.crainsdetroit.com/article...ther-buildings

  22. #47

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    The cost of safety is the cost of safety, and it is going to make the rent more expensive. I feel sorry for the artists, but the city can't have a situation like this on their hands. Things have changed for the better in the City's inspections, there is a new sheriff in town, and they are doing their job. This is a stark contrast to the norm that existed for many years, where inspections didn't happen at all, or if they did a place like the RIC could "reach a personal financial arrangement" with the inspector.
    It's a new day in the city, and they aren't going to be party to another Oakland Ghost Ship disaster.
    Safety costs money.
    Last edited by 56packman; February-27-17 at 01:09 PM.

  23. #48

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    Quote Originally Posted by 56packman View Post
    The cost of safety is the cost of safety, and it is going to make the rent more expensive. I feel sorry for the artists, but the city can't have a situation like this on their hands. Things have changed for the better in the City's inspections, there is a new sheriff in town, and they are doing their job. This is a stark contrast to the norm that existed for many years, where inspections didn't happen at all, or if they did a place like the RIC could "reach a personal financial arrangement" with the inspector.

    It hasn't changed THAT much. If you're one of the big investors in Detroit,.. and you're refurbishing or building a new project downtown,.. many of your most important inspections still take a minute or less,.. and involve a white envelope. (And yes,. I do mean to include the couple of names you just though of)

    Some things have improved. Getting an inspection and clearance from the Fire Department no longer takes 1.5 - 2 years. It now happens in just a couple of months.

    Clearances now are able to get to the Business License Center. From 2003 - 2007 ish, Bus Lisc didn't have a working fax machine,.. and the Fire Dept among others refused to send clearances to Bus Lisc any other way.

    And Fire permits didn't get sent out (or even the bills) from 2009 - 2015. The reason why is because they fired their I.T. guy (or he/she quit),. and they had raised the fees,.. but no one downtown knew how to use the system and change the fees, so the bills never got sent out,.. and in-turn didn't get paid,.. which in-turn means no one got their pink Fire permits. (And you can get charged with a crime if you don't have one displayed in a prominent place.)

    But of course they went back and billed everyone for the permits they never sent out.

    And the fees they charge for that are totally illegal under Michigan law in the first place.

    I haven't been extorted by the plumbing inspector in nearly 8 years. So that's a welcome change.

    The Building inspectors are still corrupt, and they want your video DVR system shut off when they do their inspections,.. or they'll walk out. The head of that department is not trustworthy. Fortunately there's some really good guys down there now in Bus Lisc that keep things somewhat in check.

    A couple of years ago they made the electrical and plumbing inspections every 3 years instead of every year. That took some of the load off. I had been telling them to do that for 12 years. Finally someone with a brain got in position to make it happen.

    (Building, Mechanical and Fire inspections still happen every year.)

    Still,.. if your building is super-well maintained,.. you can only expect to have a valid Certificate of Occupancy and a valid Business License every second or third year. It's just too backwards down there for it to happen they way it's supposed to.

  24. #49

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    Quote Originally Posted by Honky Tonk View Post
    There are major differences between Russel Industrial Center and Oakland's "Ghost Ship". The Ghost Ship was basically a wooden structure within cinder block walls. Russel Industrial Center is an "industrial" poured concrete structure, a majority of the sections are separated by fire doors. That said, the building does contain wooden walls and items that will burn, if they catch on fire, but a disaster on the scale of Oakland, is unlikely. Given the speed and finality of the bum's rush and closure with which Russel Industrial Center was handled, I can't help wondering if someone with some money and clout doesn't have their eye on that building.


    http://russellindustrialcenter.com/exhibition/


    Name:  Ghost Ship.JPG
Views: 526
Size:  99.4 KB
    Good comparison and very good photo.

  25. #50

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    With the right money, what could this building be converted into other than what it is now?

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