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Tuesday, June 04, 2013

Detroit Masonic Temple Receives Anonymous Tax Payment Gift

Catching up on the news after vacation. From the Detroit News last week:
The Masonic Temple has paid off its back tax bill to the city of Detroit, after an anonymous donor contributed the entire outstanding total of $142,000. According to the Wayne County Treasurer’s office, the payment posted Thursday, just four days before the June 3 deadline that would have sent the world’s largest Masonic Temple to the county auction block.

“That was a blessing,” Masonic Temple Association President Roger Sobran said Thursday.

The payment had been wired much earlier in the month, according to David Szymanski, Wayne County’s chief deputy treasurer, but information identifying the parcel was missing so the payment wasn’t credited until Thursday. An earlier payment of $10,000 on the bill was made in April, Sobran said, and a Masonic lodge contributed additional money Wednesday.

The building takes up the entire 500 block of Temple Street just north of downtown. It has 1,037 rooms and multiple theater and entertainment venues. It was placed on the state’s Historic Registry in 1964 and the National Register of Historic Places in 1980. Generations of Metro Detroiters have seen stage productions, concerts, graduations and other events at the facility. Construction began in 1920 and the temple was dedicated in 1926.

The temple association fell behind on its taxes after a brief partnership last year with a management company that left the association $500,000 in debt. That partnership has ended and there now is a lawsuit between the two parties, Sobran said. While the threat of a tax auction has been stayed, the partnership that prompted the Masonic’s financial difficulty has emerged as another threat to the association’s continued ownership of the temple.

A lawsuit and counter lawsuit over breach of contract and related issues pending in Wayne County Circuit Court show that the Masonic Association entered into a purchase agreement to sell the building to Halberd Holdings LLC, which was also contracted to manage the temple. But the Masons terminated the contract because the management company “failed in its mission” to operate the temple. The formal relationship between the two began in October 2011 and ended in November 2012, according to court documents.

In the suit, the association contends Halberd failed to pay bills or employees on time, stole parking lot revenue, lost deposits from clients and allowed underage drinking at the concert of DJ Pauly D, star of the “Jersey Shore” reality show. The suit also alleges a Halberd employee may have made “racially derogatory comments about African-Americans.”

The lawsuit further claims that Halberd hired a convicted sex offender, and that a worker overseeing tax and accounting services had been convicted of bank fraud.

The lawsuit states: “Halberd completely failed in its mission ... resulting in promoters refusing to do business with the Masonic Temple, vendors refusing to provide services without upfront payments.” Attorneys for the group declined comment Friday.

The counter-suit filed by Halberd says the Masonic Temple was overwhelmed with $900,000 debt when the management company stepped in and the relationship with the association quickly deteriorated.

The suit is still wending its way through court. In the meantime, the Temple has hosted a sold-out show that sold 4,200 tickets to see Sixto Rodriguez, the Detroit guitarist and singer who toiled in obscurity until he was highlighted by the recent Oscar-winning documentary of his career, “Searching for Sugar Man.”

Upcoming shows include both Engelbert Humperdinck and Adam Ant, plus the temple is used as a film location for movies and television shows, and is rented for weddings, Sobran said, including two this weekend.

“That was a blessing,” Masonic Temple Association President Roger Sobran said Thursday.
The payment had been wired much earlier in the month, according to David Szymanski, Wayne County’s chief deputy treasurer, but information identifying the parcel was missing so the payment wasn’t credited until Thursday. An earlier payment of $10,000 on the bill was made in April, Sobran said, and a Masonic lodge contributed additional money Wednesday.
The building takes up the entire 500 block of Temple Street just north of downtown. It has 1,037 rooms and multiple theater and entertainment venues. It was placed on the state’s Historic Registry in 1964 and the National Register of Historic Places in 1980. Generations of Metro Detroiters have seen stage productions, concerts, graduations and other events at the facility. Construction began in 1920 and the temple was dedicated in 1926.
The temple association fell behind on its taxes after a brief partnership last year with a management company that left the association $500,000 in debt. That partnership has ended and there now is a lawsuit between the two parties, Sobran said. While the threat of a tax auction has been stayed, the partnership that prompted the Masonic’s financial difficulty has emerged as another threat to the association’s continued ownership of the temple.
A lawsuit and counter lawsuit over breach of contract and related issues pending in Wayne County Circuit Court show that the Masonic Association entered into a purchase agreement to sell the building to Halberd Holdings LLC, which was also contracted to manage the temple. But the Masons terminated the contract because the management company “failed in its mission” to operate the temple. The formal relationship between the two began in October 2011 and ended in November 2012, according to court documents.
In the suit, the association contends Halberd failed to pay bills or employees on time, stole parking lot revenue, lost deposits from clients and allowed underage drinking at the concert of DJ Pauly D, star of the “Jersey Shore” reality show. The suit also alleges a Halberd employee may have made “racially derogatory comments about African-Americans.”
The lawsuit further claims that Halberd hired a convicted sex offender, and that a worker overseeing tax and accounting services had been convicted of bank fraud.
The lawsuit states: “Halberd completely failed in its mission ... resulting in promoters refusing to do business with the Masonic Temple, vendors refusing to provide services without upfront payments.” Attorneys for the group declined comment Friday.
The counter-suit filed by Halberd says the Masonic Temple was overwhelmed with $900,000 debt when the management company stepped in and the relationship with the association quickly deteriorated.
The suit is still wending its way through court. In the meantime, the Temple has hosted a sold-out show that sold 4,200 tickets to see Sixto Rodriguez, the Detroit guitarist and singer who toiled in obscurity until he was highlighted by the recent Oscar-winning documentary of his career, “Searching for Sugar Man.”
Upcoming shows include both Engelbert Humperdinck and Adam Ant, plus the temple is used as a film location for movies and television shows, and is rented for weddings, Sobran said, including two this weekend.

The mystery was solved today. From the Detroit Free Press:

The anonymous benefactor who recently paid the entire $142,000 balance in taxes to prevent Detroit’s Masonic Temple from falling into foreclosure was revealed today to be musician Jack White.
The Detroit-born White has performed on stage on several occasions at the Temple and partly grew up there when his mother served as an usher there.
In announcing Jack White’s identity as the anonymous donor, Detroit Masonic Temple Association President Roger Sobran stated: “Jack’s donation could not have come at a better time and we are eternally grateful to him for it. Jack’s magnanimous generosity and unflinching loyalty to this historic building and his Detroit roots is appreciated beyond words.”
Sobran added: “In light of Jack’s generosity and belief in the importance of a strong, vital Temple that should and will be available to future generations of Detroiters, the Masonic Temple Association will be naming, in Jack’s honor, our Cathedral Theater, the ‘Jack White Theater.’”
The Jack White Theater is a 27,878-square-foot venue with a seating capacity of 1,586.
“We could not be more humbled to bestow this honor on Jack,” Sobran said.
Now 37, White is a singer-songwriter, record producer, and actor best known as the vocalist, guitarist and pianist of The White Stripes until they split in 2011. He has collaborated with numerous other major musicians including The Rolling Stones, Alicia Keys, and Bob Dylan.
Meanwhile, a lodge or individual who wishes to make a donation can visit the Detroit Masonic Temple website athttp://www.themasonic.com where they can contribute by clicking on the “Support the Temple” tab on the far left side of the homepage. 

2 comments:

  1. Thanks for posting this. Many of us here in Michigan are very excited about this.
    Omar Flores
    WM, Grand Rapids Lodge No. 34

    ReplyDelete
  2. Any truth to the rumors swirling around that Jack White is himself a Freemason? Nothing's ever really been said publicly, but that doesn't necessarily mean anything, as the late John Entwistle managed to keep his membership in the craft a complete secret from fellow members of The Who for over four decades.

    ReplyDelete

ATTENTION!
Kindly sign your comment posts. Anonymous postings on Masonic topics have the same status as cowans and eavesdroppers, as far as I am concerned, and may be deleted if I don't recognize you or if I'm in a grumpy mood.