Detroit/ Real Estate & Development
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Published on May 25, 2024
Historic Detroit Temple Bar Closed Indefinitely After Partial Building CollapseSource: Google Street View

Detroit's venerable Temple Bar, a fixture in the city's social scene for nearly a century, was abruptly closed after part of the building came crashing down Friday morning. The bar, known for its LGBTQ-friendly ambiance and eclectic lineup of live performances, was prepping for one of its busiest weekends during the Movement festival when calamity struck. The venue's bar manager, Larry Love, expressed his disbelief to FOX 2 Detroit, "I closed last night at 2 o'clock and there was no signs of anything like this happening."

The iconic watering hole, nestled at the intersection of Cass Ave and Temple Street, won't be serving drinks or hosting revelers any time soon. Love returned to a disheartening scene of rubble and disarray, fortunate to discover that the overnight collapse hadn't injured anyone. Despite the setback, Love stays hopeful, saying, "This is just cosmetic. The roof is still solid. The foundation's still solid. The building isn’t going nowhere. And we ain’t going nowhere anytime soon." However, the timeline for repair and reopening remains uncertain, per FOX 2 Detroit.

Following the incident, the Detroit Buildings, Safety Engineering, and Environmental Department (BSEED) shuttered the locale until further notice. "Temple Bar is closed until the owner can provide us an engineer's letter saying that it is safe to occupy," BSEED Director David Bell declared, according to The Detroit News. Bell emphasizes that "The health, safety and welfare of patrons and citizens is our primary focus." Details about the cause of the facade's failure remain under investigation.

The Temple Bar's lore runs deep in Detroit history, morphing from a grocery store in the early 20th century to a bar in the 1940s. Its days as part of Detroit’s infamous Cass Corridor, which used to be the city's red-light district, date to a time when it catered to a distinctly different clientele. Its evolving identity was further highlighted by The Detroit News in a recollection of a significant fire on the property back in 1974. Efforts to gentrify the area have been ongoing, with prominent local investors like the Ilitch family playing significant roles. The consequences of such property speculation were underscored when the bar found itself ensconced in a district that was slow to blossom, despite previous high hopes linked to the creation of Little Caesars Arena and corresponding developments.

The unexpected closure throws a wrench into the bar's anticipated cash flow from the Movement festival crowds. Temple Bar anticipated a turnout of over 400 people for the event, now canceled, including a fundraiser with no fewer than 11 DJs, as Love voiced to Detroit Free Press. Staff, now without work, are seeking alternative employment options. As the debris blankets Cass Avenue, and caution tape flutters in the breeze, the community looks also to shoulder the financial challenge of repairing the cherished establishment. Love asserts, "This is a simple bar, it's community and that's the way it's always been," underscoring Temple Bar's enduring appeal to Detroit's diverse populace.

Detroit-Real Estate & Development