06/11/2010

Old Detroit casino to become police headquarters

Current building plagued by water leaks, lead-based paint, vermin and roaches

By Corey Williams
Associated Press

DETROIT — Time has just about run out for a deteriorating building that has housed the Detroit police headquarters for nearly a century.

The city has signed a purchase agreement to buy the now-closed MGM Grand temporary casino on the western edge of downtown for $6.32 million on a land contract. No other financial details were released Friday.

Falling plaster, lead-based paint, water leaks, vermin, roaches and other problems for years have plagued the old Albert Kahn-designed headquarters building in Detroit's Greektown restaurant district.

In 2005, the state ordered the city to fix up the building after workers complained.

Prisoner lockups on the eighth and ninth floors were closed in 2001 because of unclean, poorly ventilated and roach-infested conditions. A year later, 70 employees were moved from the seventh floor because of poor ventilation, leaky ceilings, mold, and vermin and pigeon droppings.

"I am glad to finally be able to move our officers into a safe, sound and functional structure that is also citizen friendly and accessible," Mayor Dave Bing said in a statement. "This represents an important step in making our city more operationally efficient ... and safe."

Ex-Mayor Kwame Kilpatrick announced in 2003 that the city was looking at the equally dilapidated Michigan Central Train Depot near the old Tiger Stadium as a replacement, but those plans never materialized.

Bing mentioned in March during his State of the City address that his administration was moving closer to finding a new police headquarters.

The former casino building opened in 1999 and was in operation until MGM Grand opened its permanent casino a short distance away in 2007.

Detroit's fire headquarters and new crime lab also will be housed in the 400,000-square-foot casino building, which Bing said has state-of-the-art facilities for public safety use.

It's expected to be ready by the fall of 2012. Some departments could be phased in earlier.

The current police and fire department buildings will reevaluated and declared surplus property, mayoral spokeswoman Karen Dumas told The Associated Press in an e-mail.

A real estate analysis will be done on both, followed by a market assessment on who may be interested in buying the buildings.

"We have already received multiple inquiries for purchase on both buildings," Dumas said.

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