2 Cases of Arson + 1 Unhappy Tenant = 1 Premature Move: Part 1

Mike Coval
April 28, 2021

As many of you know now, I will be moving COVAL to 834-B Phoenix Dr at the end of May. We've spent a little over 7 years in our current space and as we get closer to the move, I think of how we got here and what has gone down since we've been here.

I'm reminded of the crazy story that lead us to making the move over here a bit sooner than I anticipated.

Some of you have heard this story from me in-person. Some of you haven't. For those of you who haven't, be ready to be blown away.

November, 12th, 2012

5AM: I pull up to the gym (our previous location). The lights are off in the parking lot (weird).

I get out of my car and cautiously walk up to the gym door.

I open it.

Smoke pours out of the doorway and into the parking lot.

"Oh shit!!!" I think in my head. My first thought is that I left something on over night that caused this.

After trying to find the source inside of the facility and finding nothing but smoke (I can barely see as it is) I run outside. I look a bit closer in my neighbors window and there's a fire blazin' inside of their space.

About 10 minutes later than I should have and I'm on my cell calling 911.

The cops and fire department arrive. I'm questioned, lectured for walking into the building while it was on fire, and then free to go home.

At 9AM, I start letting clients know what happened and that we're closed for the foreseeable future.

For the next week I wait for Belfor to get our facility ready to go (they did a great job) and deal with my insurance company which was a total pain-in-the-ass, but most imporantly I had to connect with my landlord and see what in the hell was going on.

I also learned that someone had broken into my neighbors place, set it on fire, and the fire started spreading into our facility.

I didn't know much about my neighbor. Very little English was spoken and usually it was just waving "hi" to them and the couple of times that I tried to converse is when I learned that English wasn't their native tongue. All that I saw was two big Mercedes vans get loaded up with bags all day. Apparently they were manufacturing and distributing "soy beans".

Me: "Any word on what happened?"

Landlord: "Yeah, good news. Apparently, Mike (my neighbor) believes it was one of his competitors from SE Detroit. He told Mike to stay out of his territory, but Mike said he didn't, and believes this was a message to stay out of his territory."

Me: (confused) "Over soy beans?!"

Landlord: (laughs) "Yeah, can you believe it?!"

Me: (more confused) "No, I can't. So, are you going to kick these guys out? Clearly there's some shady business going on that someone would break into a business and set it on fire."

Landlord: "Nope. They signed a 10-year lease."

Me: (understanding that means 10 years of guaranteed revenue for him, but also on the flip side that if he allows them to stay we may not have a building at all) "Okay, that's fine, but if there's another fire, then I want out of my lease."

My landlord was very hesitant to grant me this amendment to our agreement, but I pushed for it, and eventually he granted it to me. I had my attorney draw up a new agreement.

About 14 months later, my landlord would regret agreeing to it.

Part 2 coming at you Friday...

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Mike Coval

Coval Fitness is a Personal Training Studio and Gym in Ann Arbor, Michigan

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COVAL Fitness

Personal Training Studio in Ann Arbor, Michigan

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100 Phoenix Dr #170, Ann Arbor, MI 48108

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Mon / Wednesday:
5:30 - 9:15 AM
4:45 - 8:45 PM
Tues / Thurs:
4:45 AM - 8:45 PM
Friday: 5:30 - 10:30 AM
Sat: 8AM - 12PM

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Coval Fitness is a Personal Training Studio and Gym in Ann Arbor, Michigan
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