Brush back 

This ASS feature at 92 Alfred in historic Brush Park is still there — but not for long. The city’s Planning and Development Commission has approved the once-grandiose structure for demolition. It’s little wonder; after a fire ravaged the mansion several years ago, the entire roof caved in, leaving damage so extensive a renovation would be impossible.

Elaine Hearns, executive director of the Brush Park Development Corp., says the nonprofit has been unable to track down the owner, Nicholas Aggor.

“I think it overwhelmed him and he just walked away,” says Hearns.

Much has happened with this crumbling mansion district since Metro Times last reported on it (“Brush Park and Hope,” Jan. 2, 2001).

Once home to Detroit’s wealthiest residents, Brush Park looked like a war zone in the 1990s. Many of the gorgeous manses of Brush Park were turned into apartment complexes and boarding houses, as families moved away. The abandoned ones usually caught fire or offered shelter to drug users and the homeless.

But as the new millennium turned the corner, new life was breathed into Brush Park. The Crosswinds Communities, a privately owned residential developer, built a string of condos along Woodward. Although some purists pooh-poohed the modern look of the new structures, they were snapped up by eager buyers.

“The houses that are being renovated aren’t being accomplished as quickly as new construction, because the cost for that is astronomical,” says Hearns. “In a historical district, you have all of these historical guidelines you have to follow, and that raises the cost and the time exponentially.”

Hearns says the redevelopment of Brush Park is moving right along, with most of the demolitions completed, and dozens of new construction and rehabilitation projects planned. She adds that there are many smaller rehab projects in Brush Park, including a couple who are rehabbing a historic home to turn it into a bed and breakfast, complete with period furniture.

The law firm VanOverbeke, Michaud and Timmony, P.C. sits directly across from our charred and crumbling friend on Alfred. A sharp contrast to the blight across the street, the firm resides in a beautiful renovation that J. L. Hudson once called home; a bright, colorful garden paves the way to elegantly carved wooden doors; the inside is meticulously decorated with glossy wooden furniture, thick Oriental rugs and photos of Brush Park in its heyday.

Tom Michaud says the firm purchased the house as a fixer-upper because “we loved the historical aspect, we wanted to be in Detroit, and we thought this neighborhood had a lot of potential.”

Michaud predicts the neighborhood will bloom fully in as few as three years.

“I can see this turning into a pretty eclectic neighborhood of historical buildings and residential new development,” says Michaud. “ I think that’s really positive for downtown Detroit and the metro Detroit area in general.”

Sarah Klein is a Metro Times staff writer. E-mail her at

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