Bike cooperative fighting to keep space after owner of building they moved into wants them out

DETROIT (WXYZ) - A bike cooperative that moved into a vacant building in Detroit without permission is fighting to keep their space because the owner now wants them out of the building.

The group Fireweed Universe City and Bike Cooperative moved into a building on Woodward near 7 mile about a year ago.  They moved in without permission.  Back then group member Sara Bohan said the building was vacant and boarded up.

“Nasty.  It was a complete wreck so we’ve definitely improved the building by cleaning up the space inside, moving garbage and needles.  Drugs were used here and who else knows what went down here and now we’ve turned it into a place of beauty and function,” said Bohan.

Bohan said they wanted to rent or buy the building but could not find the owner.  Last week the owner found them.  Bohan said now she wants to kick them out.

“What we’re doing here is trying to help the community we are part of.  Would you like to come in and check it out?  And she refused to even come in.  And it’s not even about who owns it, it’s about making the neighborhood a better place,” said Bohan.

The group, which is applying for nonprofit status, encourages kids to clean up neighborhoods in Detroit and learn how to build bicycles.  Then in exchange kids get to keep the bikes.  Last year the group gave away 100 bikes.  

“We love having them here and things seem to be growing,” said Robert Pizzimenti.

Pizzimenti owns the business next door and says the building had been abandoned for at least 14 years and added to other blight in the area.

“Customers that used to be on the other side of 8 mile in Oakland County and some people wouldn’t come to me because of some of the blight," Pizzimenti said.

According to the City of Detroit’s records, Palmer Woods Square, an LLC out of Detroit owns the property.  The owner did not want to go on camera, but she told me by phone she could not afford to develop the property after the housing crisis.   She said the group has not tried to purchase the property and she can’t have them using the space for liability reasons.

“The liability issue is, I understand the liability issue, but to work with her and make the community better would be much preferred than just having to leave.”

The owner told us she is giving the group until Monday to vacate the property.

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