Looks like the music isn't over yet for United Sound Systems in Detroit.
The Michigan Department of Transportation (MDOT) has purchased the historic recording studio for $1.7 million and plans to relocate it.
The recording studio, which opened in 1933 and is one of the oldest independent recording studios in country, had been in danger of demolition as it sits directly in the path of an MDOT plan to rebuild and modernize I-94 on the city's east side.
United Sound Systems has played a significant part in Detroit's music scene, with such as George Clinton, the Rolling Stones, and Miles Davis all recording there.
Clinton recorded the album, "Mothership Connection," as well as many others with his band Parliment Funkadelic in the 1970s. Marvin Gaye's classic song, "What's Goin' On" was recorded at the studio, as well as a revamped version of "Jumpin' Jack Flash" by the Rolling Stones and Aretha Franklin.
The studio was put on the market last June and MDOT used its right-of-way funds to purchase the property. MDOT bought the property on Dec. 14, including its recording equipment and an adjacent parking lot.
The agency said it plans to move the studio to the adjacent lot, putting it out of the construction zone, then sell it.
“The purchase will allow us to move the studio," said Rob Morosi, spokesman for MDOT. "It allows us to protect the historic structure, and once we have moved it and any damage that has occurred during the move and when we repair subsequent damages, we will put it up for public auction.”
MDOT said in a news release that there was no real alternative to relocating the studio. Other suggestions, such as shifting the freeway south in the vicinity of Second Avenue and narrowing the freeway shoulder and lane, wouldn't completely protect the building from damage.
The I-94 modernization project involves replacing 67 bridges, rebuilding the expressway to modern design standards, and adding an additional through-land eastbound and westbound between Conner Street and I-96. Construction on the I-94 modernization project is not expected to be completed until September 2036.
Friday's announcement that the agency purchased the studio puts United Sound back into the spotlight.
Falling on tough times, as reported by the Free Press in 2016, United Sound was seized by federal prosecutors after it was discovered the studio was purchased by a cocaine trafficker and that drug deals were being made at the historic site.
Danielle Scott, cousin to drug trafficker Dwayne Richards, bought the foreclosed building in 2009 for $20,000. Richards was later convicted for distributing over five kilos of cocaine. Court documents state he used Scott as a front to conceal his illegal activities.
However, under Scott, the studio was restored and opened to the public in 2014. The following year, United Sound was designated as a historic district by the Detroit City Council.
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