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Detroit's Heidelberg Project Suffers From Multiple Fires

Detroit's Heidelberg Project Suffers From Multiple Fires

Another structure in has been destroyed by a fire in Detroit's Heidelberg Project, an outdoor art installation on the city's East Side.

In the early hours of the morning on March 7, the “Party Animal House,” or “Doll House,” was leveled by a fire. This is the seventh structure destroyed in an 11-month period.

The leveled structures were vacant homes, and therefore uninsured. The occupied houses in the neighborhood are also not insured.

“You have to realize 48207 (the neighborhood's zip code) is recognized as one of the top, most depressed areas in the community,” Heidelberg's Executive Director Jenenne Whitfield told Benzinga.

There are no plans to replace the toppled structures since they were abandoned homes acquired by the nonprofit. Whitfield said they may find a way to repurpose another structure, because the goal is to operate Heidelberg Street. Possibilities include moving an existing structure or rebuilding one from existing materials.

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“New construction does not make sense,” Whitfield said.

Whitfield is hopeful that anything the organization puts back into the project will be able to be insured, as well as the homes of the neighbors in the area.

A fundraiser for the nonprofit brought in more than $50,000 for increased security measures, which will include solar-powered lights and more security cameras. The safety initiatives will cost around $70,000, Whitfield said.

Police suspect the fires were a result of arson, although there have been no leads.

The Michigan Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives is offering a $25,000 reward for any information that leads to an arrest, and a private donor offered another $5,000 to increase the reward amount to $30,000.

The Heidelberg Project was organized as a nonprofit in 1988 and is funded by the Kresge Foundation, the Erb Foundation, the Michigan Council for Arts and Cultural Affairs, and private donors.

The Heidelberg's budget is about half a million dollars annually, Whitefield said.

Here's a timeline of when each installation was destroyed:

  • May 3, 2013: Obstruction of Justice
  • October 5, 2013: OJ House
  • November 12, 2013: House of Soul
  • November 21, 2013: Penny House
  • November 28, 2013: War Room
  • December 8, 2013: Clock House
  • March 7, 2014: Party Animal House

Posted-In: Detroit Firearms and Explosives Heidelberg Project Jenenne Whitfield Michigan Bureau of AlcoholNews Events General Best of Benzinga


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