Longtime HGTV Host Blasts City Leaders, Builders: ‘I Absolutely Hate It’

Nicole Curtis tours Ransom Gillis house

MLive/YouTube HGTV's Nicole Curtis gave Detroit reporters a tour of the historic Ransom Gillis house in 2015, before renovations were completed.

When Nicole Curtis is upset about a restoration project, the longtime HGTV host does not mince words. Although a spin-off of her HGTV show “Rehab Addict Rescue” is set to debut July 13 on Discovery+, Curtis seems more focused on talking about city leaders and builders in Detroit whom she’s at odds with.

In the new show, “Rehab Addict Lake House Rescue,” Curtis returns to her Lake Orion, Mich., hometown to finish renovating a 1904 waterfront cottage. It’s the kind of project that makes her heart sing; throughout her home improvement career and original TV show, “Rehab Addict,” she has been famously devoted to refurbishing historic buildings with care.

That’s why, in a July 4 interview in Crain’s Detroit Business, the designer revealed she’s furious about the modern buildings constructed next to the Ransom Gillis house, a historic mansion in Detroit’s Brush Park that she painstakingly refurbished in 2015.

Curtis Calls Buildings Around Historic Home “Crap”

When Curtis began restoring the Ransom Gillis mansion to its 1870s glory, the house had been abandoned for decades. What she thought might take three weeks actually required nearly a year of work by her team, and became the focus of the entire first season of “Rehab Addict Rescue,” as her crew divided the mansion into four large apartment units.

Curtis expected city leaders and developers to give the same kind of care and attention to restoring the rest of Brush Park, one of the oldest neighborhoods in Detroit. Instead, modern condos now surround the mansion.

“I absolutely hate it; it breaks my heart,” she said. “It’s flanked by ugly, square box, modern, prefab, just crap. It was a real miss on the part of the city. It didn’t even cross my mind that anyone would go in there and smoosh Ransom Gillis into that kind of space. It’s all disposable architecture.”

The publication said requests for comments from the city of Detroit, the Rocket Community Fund, and Bedrock LLC, which partnered on the redevelopment, went unanswered.

“I lost a year of my life and then you put that next to it?” Curtis said. “It would’ve been such a kick-ass area.”

You Could Live in the Ransom Gillis Mansion for $1.9 Million

For those who don’t mind looking out at contemporary condos, a unit within the Ransom Gillis mansion is available to purchase for $1.9 million. The real estate listing has 48 photos of its 4,300 finished square feet, including three bedrooms, a garden level bar area, office, gym, and kitchen with marble countertops and custom cabinets.

In a June profile of the property by Crain’s Detroit Business, one of the real estate brokers representing the home, Kyle Swink, said it’s the first time the unit has been available for sale. It was sold privately to a couple in 2020 who are moving to be closer to family.

Swink said Curtis’s attention to detail when refurbishing the home was impressive. “Honestly, when you’re going through it, there are so many cool details,” he said. “It’s so tastefully done. … The entire house, when you’re walking through it, there’s not one squeak of a floor anywhere.”

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