HGTV’s Curtis makes another court bid for blighted Detroit home
Detroit – HGTV star Nicole Curtis’ attorney accused the Detroit Land Bank Authority of “misrepresenting material facts” in the final round of a run down a run down property.
Royal Oak attorney Jim Rasor brought charges against the land bank in a lawsuit filed in Wayne County Circuit Court on Friday. He is asking the court to overturn an August ruling granting the land bank a house at 451 E. Grand Boulevard and to declare Curtis the owner.
“Our motion aims to expose the DLBA’s misrepresentation in court and to give the property to Detroit Renovations, Nicole Curtis’ company, as it is legally the actual owner,” Rasor told The Detroit News late Friday. The court ruled on the property right on August 17, 2020, but Rasor said if a party learns that there was fraud or misrepresentation within a year of an order, they can ask the court to overturn it.
The filing came the day after Curtis met with Detroit Mayor Mike Duggan to discuss their ongoing struggles with the land bank over the 1908 Quadrangle in Islandview, which Curtis bought for $ 17,000 in 2017 from a private owner bought.
The Orion native said she put $ 60,000 into redeveloping the property before being told in 2018 that the land bank actually owned the title.
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Curtis sued the land bank earlier this month, arguing it took advantage of it by taking the deed to the house it had paid tax on, that was insured, and that had stabilized and secured.
Duggan told reporters Monday that he was confident Curtis would bid on the house, which the land bank brought on the market for $ 40,000 in late February.
Duggan’s spokesman, John Roach, declined to comment on Friday’s meeting with Curtis, which included Landbank lawyers and Rasor.
Rasor said Friday he was glad Curtis “had the opportunity to tell the mayor firsthand about the challenges of working with the land bank and the problems with real estate redevelopment in the city of Detroit.”
Alyssa Strickland, a spokeswoman for the land bank, reiterated on Friday that the agency has not commented on pending litigation. Strickland had previously determined that the Landbank had already won two separate legal actions related to the property, including the lawsuit Rasor is now trying to overthrow.
“It is important for the mayor to understand how this process can be improved,” said Rasor. “What I heard from the conversation is that the mayor was looking for a win-win situation with which the house could be renovated in an appropriate manner. I found the mayor’s approach refreshing. He was looking for a solution.”
Curtis said in a text message to The News on Friday: “Regardless of the outcome, we will still be here to preserve these beautiful homes and do our part in promoting this city.”
“And trust, we are not asking that we be given anything for free. Trust that every day people email us to give us free homes and cities that want us to work with them – just want to what’s right, “she wrote.
Detroit Renovations bought the house from Detroit-based Joyce Cauley. Curtis and the Landbank worked towards an agreement that would allow Curtis to redevelop the house once the Landbank claimed the title, but those talks failed.
Attempts by The News to reach Cauley were unsuccessful.
The land bank originally filed a lawsuit in 2015 against owners Jerome and Joyce Cauley forcing them to renovate the ruined home.
The Cauleys did not occupy the property at this point, the land bank found, and did not fulfill their obligations. In January 2017 the ownership was transferred back to the land bank.
The Landbank filed a lawsuit in July to resolve the title problem. The court ruled in favor of the land bank a month later.
In January, the land bank asked the court to set a date for Curtis’ company to vacate the property. The court set a deadline of February 12.
Late last week the house had more than 40 screenings. Strickland said Friday that no formal offers have been made yet.
Rasor argues in his Friday petition that the land bank failed on many fronts, including waiting two years after the property was granted to file the property claim with the Register of Deeds.
In addition, Rasor claims that the land bank had no ownership rights in 2015 when it originally filed suit against the Cauleys, just to lessen a nuisance.
As a result of Cauleys’ failure to comply with the harassment lawsuit, the land bank received the property in compensation for the cost of harassment mitigation, court costs and attorney fees, the motion notes read.
But Rasor claims the land bank has taken no action to secure or repair it in the five years since the house was classified as disruptive.
“Without my client’s intervention to stabilize and protect this house, it is likely that the land bank will have a collapsed, burned-out, scrapped heap of rubble at this point,” Rasor told The News.
“They claim Joyce Cauley tried to rip our customer off and our customer was the victim of a fraud,” he said. “The only fraud currently going on is that the DLBA tried to cheat Joyce Cauley of this house and has now cheated on Nicole Curtis of this house by misrepresenting material facts in court.”
A hearing on Curtis’ lawsuit filed earlier this year is scheduled for Monday. The Landbank asks the court to dismiss the lawsuit.