Flint, MI—When Thomas Collison sold the Paterson Building, a historic downtown Flint office complex, to former NBA player Morris Peterson in 2019, he did not expect he’d be in court only a few years later suing Peterson’s companies to retake ownership.

“I was 80 years old when I sold it,” Collison said from outside the courtroom of 7th Circuit Court Judge Brian Pickell on March 6. “I figured it was time for me to move on.”

Now, nearly a year after the building was condemned by the City of Flint, Collison has been granted a foreclosure judgment against Love Holdings, LLC, Flintstone Investment Group Corp—the listed owner on City records—and Love Holdings I LLC.

All groups are affiliated with Peterson, whose representatives did not reply to Flint Beat’s requests for comment.

The judgment doesn’t immediately return the historic property to Collison, who had previously owned the building since 1990. Instead, it sends the building to public auction sometime after May 1 of this year, per the requirements of the foreclosure proceedings.

Collison’s lawyer, Attorney Eric Froats, asked Pickell to set a minimum bid at that upcoming auction, known as an “upset price,” of $654,704.56. Pickell agreed to do so.

“You’ve got to remember that Mr. Collison’s out a significant amount of money under the land contract,” Froats told Flint Beat. 

The upset price allows Collison to bid what he is still owed on the property during the auction, so he can either be “made whole” by an outside bidder or have his property returned to him at no additional cost than what he’s already owed.

To further complicate the matter, the property is also facing tax foreclosure, and payment of roughly $50,000 in back taxes from 2019 are required to keep Genesee County from foreclosing on the building, separately of Mr. Collison’s case.

“It’s a messy thing,” Froats said, who added that those taxes are due by March 31.

For his part, Collison told Flint Beat he is prepared to pay the required 2019 taxes to ensure the Paterson Building is sent to public auction and he, or another bidder, can then work to bring the building back to code.

When asked why he would be willing to take on that further financial burden, Collison said it was “the principal” of the matter.

“I am very embarrassed by the building,” Collison said, noting that former and current tenants, as well as neighboring building owners, have called him to seek answers about the deteriorating property. 

“You get to know the people after 30 some years,” he said. “It bothers me, when the people call and complain, that I can’t do anything.”

No one from Love Holdings or Flintstone Investment Group Corp. appeared in court on March 6, and Flint Beat has since confirmed that lawyers representing either entity had withdrawn, or have since submitted to withdraw, from representing the organizations in both Collison’s case and pending district court cases brought by the City of Flint.

According to a statement from Flint’s Chief Development Official Mike Reiter, “nothing has been done to lift the condemnation notice on this building” since the city filed its own cases against Flintstone Investment Group Corp in 2022.

“Everything that needed to be repaired in the past remains the same today,” the statement reads.

The building was originally condemned after a piece of its parapet fell from the roof, and Reiter had previously told Flint Beat other necessary repairs included exterior stairs that were in “hazardous condition and cannot be used.”

Under the recent foreclosure judgment Love Holdings is granted a six-month “redemption period” after the property’s sale at auction, so a timeline for potential repairs to the building, which is supposed to remain vacant while condemned, remains unclear.

Kate is Flint Beat's associate editor. She joined the team as a corps member of Report for America, a national service program that places journalists into local newsrooms to report on under-covered issues....