DETROIT (WWJ) – Crews have begun the second and final phase of demolition of the defunct Brewster-Douglas housing project on the city’s east side.
Known to most Detroit residents as the “Brewster projects,” the brick, mortar and steel condo-like units, six-story buildings and four 14-story towers had been one of the oldest public housing projects in the country.
Famed Motown singers Mary Wilson and Diana Ross of the Supremes lived there, and boxing champ Joe Louis practiced at the Brewster rec center.
Rosana Johnson, who lived in the Douglas project for years, watched as demolition continued on Wednesday.
“It was a community where people came together to help one another,” she told WWJ Newsradio 950’s Stephanie Davis. “That’s not something that you see a lot of now, but that’s what we did.”
“It wasn’t just a place where people lives,” Johnson said. “People lived here, worked here, played here, and died here, of course.”
All remaining buildings, located off I-75 near Mack, will be torn down.
Author and historian Ken Coleman of Detroit said, for many, it’s a bittersweet sight.
“Certainty, if you are 70 or 80 years old, you remember a groundbreaking was held here in 1935 that included Elenore Roosevelt,” he said. “But certainly in latter years — the last 20 or 30 years — for the most part, most of the development has been an eyesore.”
The demolition is a result of the city working with HUD and the Detroit Housing Commission. Crews are expected to finish demolition near the summer of 2014.