Detroit partners with new nonprofit led by grandson of homebuilder's founder to fight blight
Detroit Blight Authority will be spearheaded by PulteGroup, DTE Energy, Kresge Foundation and others
Detroit is partnering with a new nonprofit group to step up the city's efforts to tear down blighted buildings and clean up neighborhoods.
Mayor Dave Bing announced the city's new partnership with the Detroit Blight Authority during his State of the City address Wednesday. He said the group has already begun tearing down buildings and clearing away debris as part of a pilot project in a 10-block area across from a school near the city's Eastern Market area.
The pilot site was cleared in just 10 days.
“We were able to tear down homes for less than $5,000 each,” said Lt. Col. James Henderson, CEO of the Detroit Blight Authority. “That’s about half of the $9,500 per home cost of publically funded efforts,” said Henderson, who is a retired U.S. Army veteran of Operations Desert Shield, Desert Storm and Iraqi Freedom, and has more than 20 years of experience with large-scale logistics and disaster recovery initiatives.
Bing added the project is environmentally friendly, too.
"They are recycling over 80 percent of the debris collected and re-seeding the site to prevent the growth of weeds," he said. "The elimination of blight gives ... students a safer route to school. And it means a cleaner and safer neighborhood."
Bing didn't disclose many of the details of the agreement with the group, including how much it would cost the city. He and the group's chairman, Bill Pulte, planned to visit the site across from Detroit Edison Public School Academy on Thursday.
Pulte is a grandson of the founder of Bloomfield Hills-based homebuilder PulteGroup Inc., which isn't connected to the nonprofit group. The Kresge Foundation and DTE Energy Co. are among the Detroit Blight Authority's partners, Bing said.
The city faces a $327 million budget deficit, cash flow shortages and the specter that Republican Gov. Rick Snyder may soon appoint an emergency manager to oversee Detroit's finances. Amid the city's ongoing financial troubles, however, Bing has made tearing down dangerous and abandoned structures a priority.
On Wednesday, Bing said his administration is well on its way to making good on his promise to demolish 10,000 of the city's more than 30,000 vacant and abandoned houses by the end of his term. So far, about 6,700 houses have been torn down.
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