Crews work to clean up damage at Detroit's historic David Stott building

Burst water pipe leaves bottom floors filled with water

DETROIT – For years we've been witnessing the rebirth of downtown Detroit; Once empty buildings are being rehabbed, businesses are booming and some apartments have waiting lists. But with each step forward, it seems one historic building -- the David Stott building -- is taking two steps back.

From the skyline yes, but down at the entrance it's obvious something is wrong: Clean-up crews are working around the clock since a water pipe burst Monday, leaving the bottom two floors filled with water.

Many are now worried this could be the beginning of the end of one of Detroit's most historic buildings, which was built in 1929.

Lynn Kassotis Uralli owns SkyBar and previously the entire David Stott Building. She sold it two years ago to the company DDI -- a Chinese investment firm based out of Shanghai -- which Uralli said gave the impression of continuing its resurgence, but it's been anything but.

"I got here yesterday and was told the building was flooded and uninhabitable," said Uralli. "They don't want SkyBar in the building. They've made that clear. They've evicted all the tenants that we initially put in when we owned the building. All the tenants are gone."

Uralli took Local 4 into the building Tuesday to see just how bad the damage is.

"It's devastating. This is a piece of history. It's beautiful. It's my business," said Uralli. "It's everything we worked to create just destroyed overnight."

Ceilings in shambles. Walls and floors victims of water pouring down from the second floor. Icicles now adorn the architecture that, as of three days ago, was considered by Uralli, "Immaculate. Perfect."

The cleanup company told Local 4 it's about 1.7 million gallons of water settled on the bottom two floors. That's enough to fill two Olympic-sized swimming pools and seemingly ruin a business.

"I don't know that SkyBar has a future, but we'll do something more exciting," said Uralli.

The company also said the water is safe to be pumped out starting Wednesday. The city told Local 4 it is concerned. Because of numerous code violations here it's sending out inspectors to make sure everything is OK before these workers start pumping 1.7 million gallons of water out into the streets.

A statement was released Wednesday on behalf of the owner of the David Stott Building:

"As the management arm of the DDI Group (owner of the David Stott Building at 1150 Griswold in Detroit), DDI Asset Management LLC (DDI) would like to clarify several facts related to this week's unfortunate flooding and subsequent news coverage.

"The group purchased the David Stott Building in October 2013 and has maintained it in good standing with the city of Detroit since then. DDI employs a full-time building engineer and maintenance staff, as well as building security. Our building security guard left the premises on Sunday morning at approximately 7 a.m. The building is not typically open for business on Sundays, like many other buildings in that area. When the first person arrived at approximately 8 a.m. on Monday morning, the flood was discovered. Remediation crews were onsite by early afternoon on Monday, beginning the clean-up and restoration process.

"It is not yet confirmed what caused the flood, and an insurance investigation is ongoing; yet it seems it may have been the unfortunate result of a frozen pipe thanks to the recent record-cold temperatures.

"DDI currently has two tenants in the David Stott Building; one is a local creative agency that we are helping to relocate while the flood damage is being assessed and repaired. The other tenant, Sky Bar, is the subject of a previous court-ordered eviction action, yet has been granted temporary tenancy pending an appeal.

"DDI has not evicted all of its tenants as the owner of Sky Bar has falsely claimed. The majority of the leases inherited upon purchasing the building have expired, and we have elected not to renew them as we study the feasibility of redevelopment or resale of the building."

About the Author:

Jason anchors Local 4's 5:30 p.m. newscast. He joined WDIV in January 2015 as a general assignment reporter and has a Journalism degree from Michigan State University.