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DETROIT – 1515 Broadway, a unique and popular institution in downtown Detroit, might soon shut its doors – not because its popularity has waned, but because of an unfortunate situation many Metro Detroiters are facing today.
For 25 years, 1515 has operated as a multi-use, flexible black box theater to facilitate expression among diverse Detroiters. It’s a theater, cafe, studio, coffee house, sound stage, bodega and meeting hall. It’s a salon where Detroiters can come to interact in a relaxed and comfortable atmosphere. From 1987 with “Demolish by Neglect” to the recent “Occupy Movement,” 1515 Broadway has opened its doors to community activists to meet and gather.
1515 Broadway has also been the residence of Chris Jaszczak since 1987 (and now his son resides there too). Chris, as owner and proprietor of 1515, has used his personal funds to keep this community space alive and functioning.
However, in the years 2008-2010, Chris, like many Michiganders, encountered financial hardship. As a result, he fell behind on the payments on his 11.25-percent interest mortgage loan. He reached out to numerous local economic loan and development entities for assistance to no avail. 1515 Broadway was placed in foreclosure.
Jaszczak’s income has recovered. He has made a reasonable offer to Citi Bank to pay down the arrearages if they would restore his mortgage at a standard interest rate. But Citi, a bank that has received tens of billions of dollars in federal taxpayer bailouts on express condition that they aid borrowers, would rather destroy a community institution than deal equitably with Chris. 1515 Broadway is now facing an imminent eviction.
A rally has been planned for Thursday, Jan. 26 at 6 p.m. at 1515 Broadway to help keep this wonderful community center open. All are invited to attend.
“Chris has been a major force in the community – not only for his contributions to numerous theater groups and performers who have him to thank for giving them their first home to perform in, but also for the development that’s taken place in 1515’s neighborhood,” said Donald V. Calamia, editorial director of EncoreMichigan.com and a longtime visitor to the downtown venue. “When most people were abandoning Downtown Detroit, Chris made a major commitment to it – and the result can be seen by anyone who visits the Michigan Opera Theatre, the Boll Family YMCA, Small Plates and the Detroit Beer Company. Once can only wonder what that neighborhood would look like today if Chris hadn’t moved in – or how many of the theater groups that got their starts there would be around today? One person can make a difference – and Chris is living proof of that.”
The effort to save 1515 Broadway is sponsored by Moratorium Now! Coalition to Stop Foreclosures, Evictions & Utility Shutoffs, Occupy Detroit, People Before Banks Coalition, and Occupy Our Homes.
“I hope anyone who has ever benefited from Chris Jaszczak’s hard work and dedication – from the customers who have attended shows at 1515 Broadway to the producers who first worked there – will come together Jan. 26 to help save one of the industry’s best-known institutions,” Calamia said. “Now it’s our turn to show Chris just how important he’s been to us and to the city he loves.”
For more information about the rally, call 313-744-7912 or e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org.