Flint, MI–Flint’s historic Paterson Building has been condemned for nearly half a year, but court cases are honing in on a resolution for the prominent downtown property.

On Sept. 26, 2022, Judge Brian S. Pickell of the 7th District Court heard former owner Thomas Collison’s case against Flintstone Investment Group Corp and its associated companies, all of which are or were owned by retired NBA player Morris Peterson.

Collison originally filed a motion against Flintstone, the building’s current owner, back in July 2022.

The motion asked for the immediate return of “possession, custody and control” of the Paterson Building and claimed the property’s condemnation, among other grievances listed in an affidavit from a current tenant, meant Flintstone had defaulted on the land contract by which it had purchased the building from Collison in September of 2019.

“In short, we’re saying ‘Hey, the defendants that purchased the building on land contract aren’t living up to their obligations. So, Court, we’re asking you to foreclose on it,’” said Eric Froats, the attorney representing Collison.

At the Sept. 26, hearing, amid multiple defenses, Flintstone Investment Group Corp’s lawyer, Craig Fiederlein, argued that Pickell’s court did not have the jurisdiction to decide on Collison’s motion, saying he believed the matter makes more sense for a district court.

“This is the first case that I’ve ever had to come to circuit court for waste on a land contract,” Fiederline told Judge Pickell, noting that his client had also requested a jury trial.

After a back and forth between both attorneys, Pickell ultimately asked that Collison’s team return a brief in response to the defense’s jurisdiction claim before he would make a judgment, if any.

“Obviously the court doesn’t want to do anything that they don’t have the power to do,” Froats said afterward. “So I think the judge rightfully asked us to submit a brief.”

Froats said that he would submit that brief within the next two weeks. He also told Flint Beat that Judge Pickell had offered both parties the possibility of an evidentiary hearing, given that conflicting information had been presented during arguments on Sept. 26.

Froats said he was not sure if his firm would act on that offer, and Fiederlein did not return Flint Beat’s repeated requests for comment on the case.

The next hearing on the matter is tentatively scheduled for Oct. 17, 2022 in front of Judge Brian S. Pickell of the 7th District Court.

As of press time, the city of Flint also has two open cases against Flintstone Investment Group Corp in relation to the Paterson Building, one for “Failure to Maintain Standards” and another for “Occupying a Condemned Structure.”

In response to Flint Beat’s request for more information on the building’s current status, Mike Reiter, an official with the city’s Building and Inspections Department, confirmed that the historic property remains condemned.

In response to what could be done to lift that status, Flint Beat received the following response:

“There are required exit doors in this building that are padlocked. The exterior stairs that lead to safety are in a hazardous condition and cannot be used,” read an emailed statement attributed to Reiter. “They must fix all of these exiting issues and get approval from the Fire Department in regards to the fire suppression.”

The pre-trial for the city of Flint’s cases against Flintstone Investment Group Corp is scheduled for Oct. 31, 2022 in front of Judge William H. Crawford of the 67th District Court.

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....