Russell Industrial Center tenants allowed to stay while safety upgrades made to buildings

Local 4 Defenders investigation uncovered multiple fire code violations

DETROIT – Detroit officials announced Friday that tenants at the Russell Industrial Center can stay while safety upgrades are made.

A Local 4 Defenders investigation uncovered multiple fire safety violations at the Russell Industrial Center, and the city decided to close the complex and order tenants to leave.

The order was put on hold as negotiations continued, and on Friday, a consent agreement was reached. Building owners will have to make improvements in a timely manner and the tenants can stay while work is being done.

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About a dozen artists packed a small conference room Friday at City Hall while they waited to learn the fate of the Russell Industrial Center.

They got good news when the city came to a consent agreement with the owner of the building. He agreed to correct the safety code violations and the tenants get to stay while the work is being done.

The news was music to Mark Guatto's ears. He said he's been at the Russell Industrial Center for 29 years.

"It's been a great stay there and that's a place that lets you explore your creativity and I'm glad that they got into a consent agreement today," Guatto said.

For the city, safety was of utmost concern.

"He's entered into a consent agreement, which we believe has reachable timelines and harsh penalties if he does not reach those timelines," said David Bell, the buildings safety engineering and environmental department director.

In the agreement, the owner must provide a fire watch for the occupied buildings, Building One and Building Two, 24 hours a day, seven days a week, certified by the fire marshal.

Emergency violations must be corrected no later than March 20. Essential violations must be completely repaired by April 1.

Sprinkler systems must be corrected and passed, and plans must be completed for the fire alarm system within 60 days.

The head architect for the building believes the work will be done in the timeframe the city provided.

"I think we came to an agreement that's workable," Michael Beydoun said. "We'll be able to meet all those deadlines."

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