Detroit sues another developer as blight crackdown continues
Wayne State University Law School Professor John Mogk was quoted in an article that explained a recent lawsuit by The City of Detroit which is suing several developers in their ongoing battle against blight.
Per Crain's Detroit, The city of Detroit has filed four blight-related lawsuits against longtime real estate investor Dennis Kefallinos and his son, Julian, part of a larger strategy to target commercial properties that remain in disrepair.
The suits, filed in March and April in Wayne County Circuit Court, call the properties public nuisances and a danger to the safety and welfare of the community.
The properties are a church at 8236 West Grand River Ave., a cold storage warehouse at 1448 Wabash St., the former Southwest Detroit Hospital at 2401 20th St. and an old Civic Theater at 12323 Kelly Road, all in Detroit.
"I like to preserve buildings and save them instead of demolish them," Kefallinos said when reached by Crain's. "I know it takes too long, but we're going to continue working on it." The properties listed in the lawsuit are among the most dilapidated in his portfolio.
John Mogk, a distinguished service professor at the Wayne State University Law School, said it's important that the city target blight in order to set the stage for redevelopment.
"The only way to get landowners who hold blighted property to address the nuisance is to bring a lawsuit against them," he said. "It's good news that they are becoming aggressive. Blight is a major deterrent to being able to develop the city as a whole."
Detroit Corporation Counsel Conrad Mallet said that the suits are important to attract investment and beautify the city. "Once we knock it down and clear all that crap out of there, who knows what the economic development possibilities are?" Mallett said of the Southwest Hospital property. "It could be transformative."
Mogk thinks so, too, saying more investors will be attracted to areas once the blight is clear.
"The more aggressive the city can be, the better for the city as a whole," he said. "They should move as quickly and aggressively as possible."
A Distinguished Service Professor of Law and Chair of The Levin Center at Wayne Law Faculty Committee, Professor Mogk has assumed many public leadership positions. His contributions are far-reaching but rooted in Detroit. As chair of the Jefferson-Chalmers Citizens’ District Council, he helped launch the neighborhood’s redevelopment program. As a member of the Detroit school board, he created Detroit’s school breakfast program.
After a federal court found that Detroit school authorities had engaged in historical discrimination against black children, Professor Mogk actively was involved in designing a remedial desegregation plan. As vice chairman of the Michigan Construction Code Commission, he facilitated new Michigan building regulations that removed obstacles to increased affordable housing. As chairman of Habitat for Humanity Detroit, he helped build the organization into one of the most successful in the country.