The view of the partially collapsed building from E. Fisher Service Drive on Sept. 17, 2023. (Photo by Quinn Banks)

An emergency demolition order has been issued for a 126-year-old building in Detroit’s Eastern Market district after a wall partially collapsed Saturday.

One tenant told BridgeDetroit Sunday that they raised concerns to the landlord months ago that “brick was separating” on the building but claims nothing was done. But landlord, Scot Turnbull, said he wasn’t aware of any issues with the building prior to Saturday or any complaints raised by tenants. 

“It’s pretty much all in the city’s hands,” at this point, Turnbull said. “I can’t even access the building to even look to see.”

Fallen bricks from a partially collapsed four-story building in Eastern Market taken on Sept. 17, 2023. (Photo by Quinn Banks)

The building at 2501 Russell is directly across from the Eastern Market farmers market Shed 2. The four-story building housed a number of businesses including Beyond Juice, Jabs Gym, Brooklyn Outdoor and j’adore Detroit. On Saturday morning, in the middle of the busy Saturday market, which sees tens of thousands of visitors, a portion of the wall collapsed, sending bricks and windows down onto several vehicles and causing minor injury to a person walking by. 

An emergency demolition order was issued Saturday, according to a copy of the order obtained by BridgeDetroit, declaring that the building had been inspected and is in immediate danger of collapse. The order, signed by David Bell, director of Detroit’s Buildings, Safety Engineering, and Environmental Department (BSEED), mandated all occupants immediately vacate the building. Typically, the city’s demolition process takes a year or more to conduct asbestos surveys, assign a contractor, and remove hazardous materials. But the building, and an adjoining building, have already been vacated and the street is barricaded to the thousands of people expected to visit the area today for the Sunday market, Detroit Lions tailgating, and the North American International Detroit Auto Show. 

The building could be demolished within a matter of days. Nine blight violations have been issued for 2501 Russell since 2007, according to online city blight records. None of the violations indicate safety issues to public welfare but instead are for improper signage, graffiti, and failing to secure certificates of compliance. The property was last inspected by the fire department on Sept. 5, according to the city’s online records, while the adjacent Germack Roasting was last inspected in March. 

“Due to the dangerous state of the structure, an emergency demolition order is necessary for this building,” said Georgette Johnson, spokesperson for BSEED. ”A determination has not been made as to the cause of the collapse. This investigation is ongoing.” 

Armond Harris, owner of Jabs Gym, which opened in Eastern Market in 2015, said he first brought up issues with the building to Turnbull four months ago. 

“I was in conversation with my landlord (Turnbull) about there being some damage to the building that I was concerned with,” he said. “Damage to the brick – the brick was separating from the original brick.” 

But Harris contends Turnbull wasn’t doing anything about the damage, prompting Harris to bring it up again Saturday morning, before the collapse. Harris said he never filed an official complaint with the city. 

Detroit Police officers walking down Russell on Sept. 17, 2023, near the site of a partially collapsed building in Eastern Market. (Photo by Quinn Banks)

Known as the Del Bene building, Turnbull bought the building in 2007. His company, Manufacturing Detroit, is a commercial and residential development and redevelopment company behind more than 10 projects across the city. Turnbull redeveloped another mixed-used building in Eastern Market at 1400-1420 E. Fisher Service Drive, which he bought in 2013. The building houses Thomas Magee’s Sporting House, Two 18, and other businesses. 

“I’m trying to move as soon as possible, just really picking up the pieces,” Harris said. “Jabs Gym at Eastern Market will be back bigger and better soon.”

Jena is a BridgeDetroit's environmental reporter, covering everything from food and agricultural to pollution to climate change.

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