Former Detroit Chinatown building set to be demolished despite advocate urges

Detroit's Cass Corridor has seen drastic changes during the city's revitalization - but some want to save a piece of the City's historic Chintatown. The building is at the intersection of Cass and Peterboro.

"This was the heart of Chinatown, this building right here for decades," said Mike Boettcher,

"They would have Tuesday movie nights where they would show Hong Kong films, Miss China beauty pageants," said author Curtis Chin. "My grandparents celebrated their wedding anniversary in that building, so it was just the community space where we always gathered."

Olympia Development of Michigan has owned the property since 2004. Abandoned for years, the building is slated for demolition.

But some say this building — more than 150 years old — is a historic gem that should be restored.

"It’s completely re-hab able as it is," said Boettcher, an urban planner. "You can see through the windows, there are I-beams that are still holding up the walls and that’s critical."

For decades Curtis Chin’s family owned a Chinese restaurant next door to what was then, a community center.

"I have a whole book — it's called 'Everything I learned, I learned in a Chinese restaurant,'" he said.

Chin has mixed feelings about the slated demolition.

"I don’t know if at the end of the day it makes sense to keep the building," Chin said. "But I definitely feel like they should take a pause and get some feedback from people and say, 'What is the value of this? Is (it) worth it.'"

Olympia Development released a statement saying it has awarded the contract to a local demolition company that has been in business for 25 years.