Tenants must move after low-income apartments sold in Detroit

Tenants must move after low-income apartments sold to mystery buyer

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One of the low-income apartment buildings sold in Detroit's Cass Corridor. One of the low-income apartment buildings sold in Detroit's Cass Corridor.
DETROIT (WJBK) -

Nearly 200 low-income residents that live in apartments on Henry Street in Detroit received paperwork alerting them their buildings have been sold and they have 30 days to get out.

"It's a shock," said Wesley Hjeltness.  "There [are] a lot of older folks in here that can't get out and look for... apartments, and there [are] people in here with kids."

"I don't know where I'm going.  I don't have the income.  It's hard to find another place at $350 with everything included," said Cecil Riley.

The properties used to belong to Peter Mercier of Grosse Pointe Farms.  He wrote a letter apologizing to the residents for the short notice.  He explained last year he signed an option to sell the properties, and the deal just went through.  Mercier claimed he asked the new owner for an extension, but that request was denied.

Who is this new owner?  We went to Mercier's home.  Off camera his wife told us they sold the properties, but they don't know who bought them.

The same goes for Martin Diller, who is the co-owner of the Greater Detroit Cab Company located down the street at Henry and Park.  He said they are selling their business that has been in the family for more than 30 years.

"It is in the process, but I don't know the amount.  I don't know who actually it is," he said.

Over the last few years, several properties have been sold in the Cass Corridor and surrounding areas to what appears to be secret corporations.  Rumors are swirling it is to make room for Mike Ilitch's new hockey arena and entertainment district.

"Came in with a ridiculous offer, and I just told them I wasn't interested," said George Boukas.

Did they tell him who they were with?

"No.  They can't.  Actually everyone that's been approached has to sign a confidentiality agreement," he explained.

Boukas is the owner of the Temple Bar and said he was approached over a year ago.  It is one of the few remaining businesses that has not been bought, but he said that could change.

"For the right price everything is up for sale," he remarked.

"Who wants to stop progress?  Let whoever it is do what they want to do," Diller said.

Meanwhile, residents of the apartments don't want to stop progress.  They just need a place to go and are asking for more time.

We did contact Ilitch's Olympia Development.  A spokesperson said they typically refrain from discussing or responding to speculation.

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