Building owner who blamed Detroit admits he's a 'slumlord'

Shawn Reed went on FOX 2 telling us the city of Detroit was to blame for the deteriorating conditions of his apartment building.

Low income residents were forced out because the building was deemed inhabitable - but now we've learned it's not the city's fault at all.

He's an ex con. 

"Yeah, absolutely, I did some time," Reed said.

A slumlord.

"I'll own it," Reed said.

Just don't blame him for his tenants being forced from their homes.

"If they want to see change, they should look at themselves in the mirror," Reed said. "I'm not doing anything illegal."

FOX 2 had a candid conversation with self-confessed slumlord Shawn Reed. The city of Detroit shutdown his apartment building Friday and moved out the last of his tenants for a number of code violations.

"Well obviously it was heartbreaking," said Meghan Takashima, director of Homeless Solutions, Detroit. "It was heartbreaking to see the condition the building was in."

Reed claims the city is to blame for the sewage and storm water that backed up in the basement and made the building uninhabitable.  He says a city hired contractor damaged plumbing underground when it demolished a flamed out building next door that he once owned.

FOX 2: "You maintain that was the city's property it was no longer your property?" 

"Correct," Reed said.

But the city disagrees.

"There's no indication, there are no records that indicate that the lot is city owned property," said Palencia Mobley, deputy director of Detroit's Water Department. "This property (apartment) is deeded, registered to Detroit Invest Inc. This property (vacant lot) is registered to sovereign Michigan Inc., which have the same registered agent address."

That's not all - Reed owes $4,000 in unpaid water bills at his now shuttered apartment building. The city of Detroit says he owes thousands of dollars in back taxes on the vacant lot next door. And had two properties foreclosed on and transferred to Detroit's land bank.

One is being assessed for demolition and the city paid $65,000 to raze the other one.

"I felt that it was not feasible to develop so I let it go," Reed said.

FOX 2: "You let the property languish?"

"I let the property languish, let it go back to the city," Reed said.

FOX 2: "A lot of people would say that's the trappings, the workings of a slumlord, that's the image."

"You can call it a facet of being a slumlord, I'll own it," he said. "But at the end of the day I'm a real estate developer.

"So I'm not the only one guilty of it. blame the system. And this isn't the first time that this ..."

FOX 2: "That's part of the reason why Detroit neighborhoods continue to decline for that very reason and you say you actively contribute to that?"

"Absolutely, I play by the rules," Reed said. "That's the rule of the game. If they want to see change they should look at themselves in the mirror. I'm not doing anything illegal."

The city is cracking down on landlords like Shawn Reed question is will its efforts be enough - -the jury is still out on that and in the meantime self-confessed slumlords are playing the game and milking Detroit for all its worth."