Barbecue owner ticketed for crumbling building next door

- At first glance, you may have thought one of Detroit's best barbecue joints was actually an abandoned building.

"We are one of the survivors, we're hanging in there doing the best we can," says owner Dennis Butler.

Vicki's Bar-B-Q has sat next to this crumbling cement eyesore for years. The restaurant may look familiar - it was profiled in "Parts Unknown" with CNN's Anthony Bourdain. A pillar from the abandoned building actually fell down during their taped interview.

Butler says that was three years ago.

"I have been trying to encourage the city to tear that down for almost a decade," he says. "And they have done nothing but indicate it was on the destruction list and we just sit and wait."

While they were waiting, last Friday Butler got something from the city he wasn't expecting - hundreds of dollars in tickets from Detroit's Building and Safety Department. One was for an illegal sign, and two for the blight next door - a dangerous abandoned building he doesn't own but has been forced to deal with for decades.

"I was mad as hell," Butler says. "Unless somebody can't read numbers, how can you take this number and put it over there."

In a strange twist, the city came out on Wednesday. Instead of correcting the tickets or tearing down the dilapidated building, workers decided to partially paint over it.

Butler wants to know what it is going to take to get this building demolished once and for all so his employees and customers can finally feel safe.

"You can look all up and down this street," Butler says. "If it is a brick building it is just going to sit there. What I want is the building and safety department to tear down a lot of things but they just don't have the money. I have to be honest, they don't have the money."

FOX 2 told the city what was going on. City spokesperson John Roach confirmed the abandoned building does belong to someone else. He said if the tickets were improperly cited, he says the city will cancel them right away.

As for tearing down that building, it may take a little more time, but he said the city is looking into the possibility of fast tracking the tear down.


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