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Tuesday, March 11, 2014

Masons Win Legal Battle Over Detroit Temple Ownership

The Masons have won their legal battle over ownership of their one of a kind Temple building.

The Masons have won their legal battle over who owns Detroit’s Masonic Temple, the largest building of its kind.

“We won! All counts related to any claims of ownership of the Masonic is over. It it is clearly owned by the Masons,” said Bradley Dizik, special adviser to the Masonic Temple’s board of trustees.

Dizik was referring to a Tuesday ruling by Wayne County Circuit Court Judge Leslie Kim Smith that dismissed claims by a former management company they had an ownership stake in the institution, according to Dizik, who is attorney and a consultant in the case.

The Masonic Temple Association of Detroitwhich owns the Masonic Temple, booted the management company, Halberd Holdings, out of the facility in 2012. The association claimed, among other things, that Halberd was ruining the temple’s reputation by not paying its bills and hiring felons.

It came at time when the 1,037-room facility faced a financial crisis. The News revealed in April the Cass Corridor institution owed Wayne County $152,000 in back taxes. It faced being sold at the annual auction of foreclosed properties. Bidding for the 14-story Gothic structure, listed on the National Register of Historic Places, would have started at $160,000. The Mason’s claimed that it was never in danger of being sold in foreclosure and they had worked out a deal with county officials.

But the news motivated Detroit-born rocker Jack White to step forward, out of the blue, and pay the tax bill.
It also sparked East Coast attorney Dizik, a third-generation Mason originally from Farmington Hills, to move to Detroit to help get the 88-year-old building back in order. Dizik helped broker a deal with DTE Energy Co.,which had threatened to shut off the power because of a $300,000 overdue bill. That bill has already been greatly reduced and should be paid off by the end of this year, Dizik said.

The biggest threat was Halberd’s ownership claim.

Some of the investors that once made up Halberd have split up, including former Detroit Lions star Mel Farr and Donald Foss, founder of Credit Acceptance Corp, according to court documents. The two remaining principals are Michael Smith, a Mount Clemens attorney, and New York filmmaker Matthew Mazer.

Halberd’s attorney, Norman Yatooma, could not be reached for comment.
There remain some claims and counter-claims between Halberd and the Masons, all of which should be resolved by end of summer, attorneys for the Masons said Tuesday.

The best is yet to come for the Masonic, Dizik says.

The Masonic is now in the heart of the planned 45-block entertainment district that is to be anchored by the new home for the Detroit Red Wings. That arena will be built across the street from the Masonic Temple.

Late last year, the Masons hired The Crofoot to help book shows at the facility, which has resulted in more concerts. Upcoming shows include comedian Katt Williams, the local rocker Rodriguez and singer Lana Del Rey.

Twitter: LouisAguilar_DN

From The Detroit News: http://www.detroitnews.com/article/20140311/BIZ03/303110089#ixzz2vh2w7e4j

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