Joel Landy’s estate selling Detroit real estate portfolio to fund new foundation

The properties, like Landy himself, are an eclectic ensemble.

There’s the recently redeveloped James Scott Mansion on Peterboro Street, sometimes referred to as the “Spite House” because of its quirky history. There’s the Addison, a former hotel that now houses 40 apartments plus the Pho Lucky restaurant at Charlotte Street and Woodward Avenue; the Leland Lofts building, straddling Lafayette Park and Eastern Market on Antietam Street, was formerly the Nellie Leland School for Crippled Children; and the former Dewey Center School at the John C. Lodge Freeway and Fourth Street.

There are land and vacant buildings and homes, some small and nondescript, others larger, assembled over the years in a hodge-podge fashion.

In all, there are nearly 250,000 square feet and 6.5 acres of land, according to documents provided by Southfield-based brokerage house Signature Associates Inc., whose president, Steve Gordon, has the listing.

Gordon said he is identifying potential buyers and hopes to have a sale finalized by the fall.

Likely on the list: The Ilitch family’s Olympia Development of Michigan real estate company, which owns vast swaths of property in the area surrounding Landy’s real estate stronghold.

He started venturing into property ownership when his car repair business on Gratiot at Conner, J&L Custom Auto Works Inc., became successful.

Landy — who often told people how he bought his Detroit house for $4,600 and, along with it, a trove of antiques inside — was also well known for his vast collections of things ranging from old cars to model trains.

Gordon, who also has a car collection, feels a certain kinship with the late developer who made his way into real estate by working with his hands.

“He was a car collector. He liked different stuff. That’s what I liked about him,” Gordon said. “I have that kind of stuff. I’m into that kind of stuff where most real estate people are not.”

Some of Landy’s other things, such as the cars, are in the process of being sold by Baldori, Kopietz said.

“The majority of the cars, at least those of value, have been sold. There are still some left and he’s working through the process to find buyers for those,” Kopietz said.

In part, those collections lead to Landy being featured in The History Channel’s “American Pickers” show.

The Oak Park native who attended Cass Technical High School in Detroit ultimately found himself in Detroit real estate laying the seeds for things to come years down the line.

“If it weren’t for Joel, there wouldn’t be Peterboro-Charlotte Historic District,” Kopietz said. “There’s a lot of stuff and a lot of activity in this area that I don’t think would be around today if it weren’t for people like him having the vision and wherewithal to stick to it over all those years.”

Christin Hakim

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