Ed Steele, an IT businessman who spent eight years cleaning out an abandoned, supposedly haunted police precinct in Detroit, died Wednesday afternoon. He was 54.
Steele died at Beaumont Hospital in Royal Oak of undisclosed causes, his son Tim Steele said.
Steele spent his career in the managed IT services business and owned Berkley-based RT Software Systems Inc., offering cloud computing, network infrastructure support or other services for dozens of local companies.
One of Steele’s passions was a nearly century-old vacated 6th Precinct Detroit police station building on the city’s west side. Steele was the subject of a recent Crain’s report when he tried to turn the place into an overnight Airbnb attraction.
Steele was subjected to fines from the city because he hadn’t been operating out of the space or renovating the building legally. Members of Detroit’s building department told Crain’s early this month their goal was to get Steele into compliance with city rules, and they had no indication he wasn’t willing to comply with that process. Steele himself told Crain’s he planned on submitting a site plan and trying to move forward with the Airbnb concept.
His vision for the 30-room building, on which he had spent $360,000 so far, was to turn it into his business’ second data center. He purchased the building at 5658 Braden St. at McGraw Avenue in 2013, amid Detroit’s bankruptcy, for $15,000.
That plan was nearly a decade in the making and years from a potential completion date. In the meantime, though, the building had been hosting paranormal events and tours — though without a license to do so — and was a popular subject of paranormal investigation. It was featured on the Travel Channel’s “Most Terrifying Places.”
The Underground Paranormal Network, which hosts ghost and history events in historic buildings, including Steele’s, in a Facebook post Thursday called Steele “one of the kindest, generous, caring and passionate men you’d ever meet” and a person who “showed ZERO quit.”
Nick Groff, a paranormal investigator and TV personality, tweeted a tribute to Steele: