Corktown is a neighborhood that has been on the upswing and mentioned nationally for its historic homes, great food and bars.
It’s a place that prides itself on supporting local and small businesses, and hasn’t seen the amount of large-scale residential and retail construction Midtown has.
It’s a place that supports businesses like the UFO Factory bar.
The UFO Factory was damaged by a cement mixer that struck the building at about 11:30 a.m. on Wednesday. The mixer was part of construction crew working to build a new development that will completely surround the bar.
The damage was severe enough to the wall that you can see inside the bar (or outside) through it. Here’s a picture from today.
That development under construction is called Elton Park, a $150 million project on long-empty land that’s been assembled (and sat on for a long time) by a real estate company controlled by Anthony Soave. It covers multiple blocks.
If Anthony Soave doesn’t ring a bell, he should. He’s the guy who testified he flew now disgraced mayor Kwame Kilpatrick and his entourage 20 times on his private jet and spent “tens of thousands of dollars on watches, hotels and sporting events for the former mayor.”
His company, Soave Enterprises, is a $2 billion dollar operation and he made a chunk of change ($750 million) selling City Management that was in the garbage pickup and hauling business.
In short, he’s one of the most powerful men in Metro Detroit.
The UFO Factory story, pulling from multiple sources, has a few twists and some funny timing.
First, it’s clear that the UFO Factory wasn’t taking an undisclosed offer to sell the plot of land the bar and restaurant is on that is not only in the heart of Corktown, but completely surrounded by The Elton development.
According to online records, the UFO Factory owns its own land, but is completely surrounded by Checker-Trident property controlled by Soave.
When I went through the area, people weren’t willing to talk on record, but the sentiments were similar to what Benjamin Wardwell told Fox 2 News:
“I find it conveniently ironic they suddenly damaged the building the day they start construction,” he said. “Now it is condemned. It’s like they couldn’t win in court then UFO won the court battle, then ‘Gee we hurt your building, we’re sorry now the building is condemned so it’s going to have to be torn down.”
From reports, it seems that nobody is talking about anything as it’s clear there’s been a legal dispute and most likely there will be another one after this incident.
Construction on the site has been halted by a stop work notice from the city of Detroit.
And until further notice the UFO Factory building sits condemned by the city, and the workers at the UFO Factory and Laika Dog, the hot dog place that also operated in the space, are out of jobs.
There’s even a layer of history to the building, too. Although mostly nondescript except for its front, it was the home to Hoot Robinson’s, a famous watering hole for baseball players after (and sometimes before) games at the old Tiger Stadium – including Babe Ruth.
One can only imagine what stories over the years the walls of 2110 Trumbull could tell if they could talk.
But this story involving one of Detroit’s hottest neighborhoods, a popular nightspot, and one of Detroit’s most powerful men isn’t over yet.
To help with the expenses for the now out of work employees there’s a GoFundMe online. It has raised more than $10,000 as of this writing as well as there is a benefit at El Club on Monday night.