Former U-M football star's treatment center faces closure

Image 1 of 5

He was a college football star turned addict  but he's since in recovery and is now trying to help others avoid a similar path.

Now he's facing resistance from the city of Detroit . His efforts are in danger of being put to an end.

Billy Taylor played running back at the University of Michigan during the Bo Schembechler era.

After his glory days at Michigan, Taylor overcame drug and alcohol addiction which led to him opening a residential rehab center at the corner of Dexter and Sturtevant in Detroit.

Now a fight between the city's board of zoning appeals and the Russell Woods community could bring his cause to an end.

"Right now, my facility has been shut down after investing over $2 million into a vacant building, all about trying to help people," Taylor said.

Taylor says it's been an ongoing battle trying to renew legal permits mainly due to complaints by residents who live in Russell Woods.

"There's been two times we've applied for conditional land use and the City of Detroit has granted it through the building safety and engineering department," he said. "This is the second time the decision has been overturned by the board of zoning appeals."

All along Dexter, there is blight all over. Maybe a year ago, a building that used to be in a nearby green space was torn down because it was crumbling and bricks were falling to the ground.

Taylor says if a compromise can't be made, his facility will be shut down for good, and probably left vacant - which is sadly familiar in this area.

FOX 2: "What would you say if this building became vacant and God knows what could be happening in there?"

"That's the truth," said resident Alex Lamar. "It could be another vacant building like the one across the street that they tore up."

Taylor says due to the uphill battle, no patients have been there since September of 2015.

Alex Lamar lives a few houses down from the rehab center, and says before that some of the patients were out of control. This husband and father says Taylor has the right intent, but more security is needed.

"Make sure they don't have access to people in the neighborhood," Lamar said. "They tend to stand outside or at the gas station. I just don't want they yelling at my children or wife through the windows."

"In eight years, we've never had one police report at this facility," Taylor said. "The men who come here are beaten down and broke down. We try to build them up."

Taylor has 21 days from Tuesday to appeal the city's decision in circuit court. If the appeal doesn't go in his favor, the facility will be closed.

FOX 2's calls to the city's board of zoning appeals have not been returned.