The once-grand theater at the corner of Hilliard Road and Madison Avenue, now crumbling and abandoned, has
been deemed a nuisance and now faces a wrecking ball.
City officials said the Hilliard Square Theater now poses safety concerns to passing motorists and pedestrians, as reported incidents of falling rubble have increased.
The city determined last week that the property owner has until Oct. 17 to fix 74 building code violations and seven fire code infractions.
“The building itself has gotten to a critical condition,” said Dru Siley, the city’s director of building and housing. “The roof is falling in on itself and the building is exposed to the elements.”
The cost to fix the violations is estimated at more than $1 million. And that’s not including a much-needed overhaul to update the structure.
The city could abate the issues, which would likely include demolition.
“I very much regret that we’re in this position,” Siley said. “We’re in position that something drastic is likely to happen.”
It’s not been a big secret that small movie theaters have struggled to maintain viability in recent years. A serious lack of parking hasn’t helped the Hilliard Square Theater, built in 1927.
The Detroit Theatre on Detroit Avenue was demolished last year and replaced by McDonald’s.
“We’re going to have to make some decisions come Oct. 17,” said Siley.
He said that the city might only look to demolish the Hilliard Road portion of the historic building that includes the theater.
Siley said that the building’s owner, Bob Dobush, has indicated that he will not appeal the nuisance declaration.
Dobush couldn’t be immediately reached for comment.
“He told us he is pursuing quotes for a demolition contractor to move forward with demolition,” Siley said.
“My hope is to figure out a way to demolish the Hilliard side — the theater portion which is falling down — and preserve the apartment building that faces Madison Avenue.”
The sidewalk along Hilliard Road is expected to close next week.