Detroit aims to demolish or preserve 16,000 blighted properties in the city

Posted at 8:45 AM, Apr 13, 2021
and last updated 2021-04-13 08:45:09-04

DETROIT (WXYZ) — The City of Detroit is aiming to demolish or preserve about 16,000 properties in the city.

"I think it's a wonderful thing and about time," Detroit resident Gilda Wagner said.

Wagner said she's lived in a neighborhood on the city's west side for 63 years.

"This used to be such a beautiful neighborhood and I watched it transform into this," she said.

She said several abandoned, decaying properties on Northlawn Street, leaving her with concerns, most of all for her granddaughter's safety.

Curtis Johnson, owner of Inner City Contracted, said he's been contracted to knock down 358 homes as part of Proposal N, a $250 million bond proposal approved by voters in 2020.

The city said 100 percent of the demo contracts this first round went to Detroit-based small businesses, with 1,300 contracts tied to $30 million.

LaJuan Counts, director of the Detroit Demolition Department, said the current budge allowed for only 300 emergency demolitions. But with Proposal N, they will be able to tear down 3,000 homes this year.

"Let's be clear too that, we don't want to demolish everything," Counts said. "So a significant amount of those properties that we encounter, if they're able to be saved we're going to preserve them."

Proposal N calls for a total of 8,000 demolitions and another 8,000 homes to be preserved.

"When you pull that blight out of the equation, and the residents turn it into a side a lot or they turn it into a small little community garden, it has a more positive impact on your emotional state," Counts said.

The lots and preserved properties go back to the city land bank.