With an excessive heat warning in effect in Detroit, residents at the storied Jeffersonian high-rise apartment building are without a functioning air conditioning system. Building management recommended they find alternative housing for at least Wednesday and Thursday. 

Hayman Co., which manages the building, notified tenants on Tuesday. The notice, reviewed by Outlier Media, suggested residents find lodging elsewhere and that each household would be provided with a $200 July rent concession and a $200 prepaid debit card. On Wednesday, another notice, also reviewed by Outlier, stated the gift cards would not be distributed and the rent concession would be increased to $400.

Hayman regional director Michael Griffioen was onsite Wednesday and declined comment to the Free Press and Outlier Media, including to answer when residents could expect the air conditioning system, which residents have said has been inoperable for years, to be repaired.

A senior resident who asked not to be identified for fear of retaliation by management was preparing to leave the building to find relief from the heat at her daughter’s home elsewhere in the city Wednesday. when she said she has witnessed the building fall into disrepair over the past decade. 

“These are last ditch efforts for them to show that they’re trying to do something,” she said. “When the reality is the management has no clue.”

The Jeffersonian has 410 units with rents ranging from $999 to $2,899, and is a mainstay in Detroit’s Gold Coast riverfront district. The building is under a six-month redemption period following a March foreclosure auction won by Fannie Mae, the lone bidder for the 30-story building

a tenant of the jeffersonian apartment building in detroit holds the notice issued by management
A tenant of the Jeffersonian apartment building in Detroit, shown on June 15, 2022, holds information on city-run cooling centers during the heat wave after building management suggested residents leave due to extreme temperatures. Photo credit: Miriam Marini

Inquiries to Fannie Mae and to one of the owners of the building, Southfield commercial real estate firm Ari-El Enterprises, were not immediately answered Wednesday afternoon. A representative from West Bloomfield-based real estate investment firm Barbat Holdings, the building’s other owner, said the company has not been involved with the Jeffersonian since early 2021, when the co-owners battled out an alleged breach in their ownership agreement in court.

Angel Marino, 39, is among a number of residents struggling to find last-minute accommodations to stave off the heat. With the promise of gift cards broken, she doubts she’ll have enough money to cover a night at a hotel. 

“If I could leave this place and just go to a shelter with my kids and never come back, I would,” said Marino, who has lived in the building for three years with her three children, ages 12, 8 and 7. “It’s not about the heat wave, this place has been hell on our lives.”

The last-minute notice to vacate the building is just the latest problem, Marino said Wednesday. An Outlier reporter witnessed her listing the number of issues she has faced during her years at the Jeffersonian to Griffioen, the management representative — including bug infestations, elevators out of operation and service requests falling on deaf ears.

Griffioen later returned inside the building’s air-conditioned lobby and refused to speak with the Free Press and Outlier Media, instead asking a reporter to leave the property.

If you have housing issues or need other critical information in Detroit, text DETROIT to 67485 to get help or speak with an Outlier Media reporter.

While the building’s lobby was air-conditioned, many units and entire floors are not. The notice issued Tuesday said management expects repairs to the building’s air conditioning system to be completed in the next two weeks. However, temperatures in the city are expected to rise again into the mid-90s next week.

Marino said she has no plan yet and is worried for her kids.

“Do not move into the Jeffersonian, that’s the headline,” Marino said. “You will get trapped. I wish somebody would have said something to me.”

This story was published in partnership with the Detroit Free Press. 

Miriam Marini is a breaking news reporter for the Detroit Free Press and Outlier Media. Contact Miriam: mmarini@freepress.com or miriam@outliermedia.org.

Miriam (she/her) is a strong believer that journalism should hold leaders accountable and serve as a platform for marginalized groups. She can often be found at The Congregation — usually with a hot mocha in hand and finding an outlet to charge her dying laptop.