City battles with Centre Park Bar in Downtown Detroit over noise complaints, permits

Bar owner claims city is targeting establishment

DETROIT – The owner of a bar in Downtown Detroit claims the city is trying to force out the establishment, while the city says police are responding to noise complaints.

Dennis Archer Jr., the son of former Detroit Mayor Dennis Archer, wants to take over the property of the Centre Park Bar on Randolph Street and Gratiot Avenue.

Archer's investment group, Gotham Capital Partners, was selected as the winning bid out of a group of dozen or more respondents that replied to an RFP let by the Downtown Development Authority for the redevelopment of the Paradise Valley Cultural and Entertainment District.   

Activist Robert Davis said the younger Archer is a major fund raiser for Detroit politicians, and the city is trying to push out the bar because he wants it.

“You have this mayor trying to pull this political witch-hunt because they’re here and not willing to budge to allow Dennis Archer Jr. to have this facility,” Davis said.

The city said there are many noise complaints called in from the hotel next to the bar because there are outdoor parties with loud music. The manager of the Hilton Garden Inn Hotel, David Kipfmiller, said the noise is causing him to lose business.

“I’ve had guests leave in the middle of the night,” he said.

The bar has filed lawsuits against Mayor Mike Duggan and Police Chief James Craig, and the city has filed a nuisance lawsuit against the bar.

Bar owner Christopher Williams said in court documents that his business is being targeted because the clientele is mostly African American. He said the bar is being hit with noise complaints and tickets because the property is desirable and the city wants to drive them out.

The Old Shillelagh is nearby and has large parties, but police Capt. Octavious Miles said the parties aren’t an issue because the bar has permits for such gatherings. Also, he said the bar will comply when police ask that music be turned down.

The city said Centre Park has only a café permit, and that permit does not allow for the nightlife atmosphere at the bar.

The city said this is the first time it has gotten involved in a noise dispute between downtown businesses, but it said it has nothing to do with Archer Jr. wanting the property or the race of the bar’s clientele. Instead, the city said it’s about protecting the hotel.

A judge will decide the bar’s fate. 

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