Rubble rouser 

The first thing you notice about the pile of rubble on 2867 W. Fisher Freeway is the smell. An old mattress tops the pile of bricks, siding and shingles, an agglomeration of building materials that emits a faint odor of mold and rot.

The second thing you notice is the fish sculpture located just southeast of the rubble. The structure was completed last year as part of an attempt by the Bagley Housing Association to beautify the four corners of the West Vernor overpass. It was created out of recycled building materials by local artist Vito Valdez and lies in stark contrast to its corroded neighbor, the remains of a house that was torn down by the Detroit River Tunnel Partnership — which wants to construct a new border crossing under the Detroit River — about one month ago.

Marge Byington, director of government relations for what backers are calling the “jobs” tunnel, said the partnership is waiting for the gas lines to the house to be shut off before they can clear the wreckage. And here we thought gas lines had to be shut down before a house is demolished. As of Monday, ASS (that’s the Abandoned Structure Squad for you neophytes) learned that the rubble was expected to be cleared within the next couple of days.

The house is the fourth the partnership has demolished on the block of the W. Fisher Freeway between W. Vernor and Standish. Byington says once all of the wreckage is cleared the land will probably be converted into “green space” for the community.

Vince Murray of the Bagley Housing Association said he would like to see the mess cleaned up but that he understands it can take demolition crews a while to clear their debris. As he puts it: “We do some demolition ourselves. We know how the process works. It takes a few weeks to get it all cleaned up.”

Let’s hope that’s not enough time for the rats to congregate.

Editor’s note: If you know of an abandoned home you would like to see featured in this spot, send a photo and pertinent information to News Hits, c/o Metro Times, 733 St. Antoine, Detroit, MI 48226 (or e-mail

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