Property tax foreclosures have plagued Detroit for 20 years, displacing tens of thousands of families and leaving thousands of blighted and vacant homes. (Shutterstock photo)

Detroit officials unveiled Friday its first wave of blighted homes and lots targeted for demolition under the city’s new Proposal N. 

Mayor Mike Duggan and other city officials released a list of 1,375 properties slated for demolition. The list doesn’t specify the neighborhoods or give the ZIP code of the properties.  BridgeDetroit attempted to identify the addresses through Google Maps. It showed the properties to be spread out fairly evenly throughout the city. Several addresses on the city list could not be found by Google Maps. 

“Spring” was the timeline Duggan gave for the start of the demolitions. But next week, the contracts to approve seven Detroit-based businesses who will raze the properties will be submitted to City Council. City officials hope to get them approved by the end of January. That means preliminary work on the properties could begin shortly afterward, including abatements in February and demolitions in spring, officials said.

Proposal N 

The planned demolitions mark the return of the city’s years-long effort to get rid of tens of thousands of blighted properties, the vast majority lost through foreclosures 

In November, Detroit voters handily approved Duggan’s plan, dubbed Proposal “N” for neighborhoods, to wipe out up to 16,000 blighted homes and lots in five years. Virtually all the properties were lost by a private owner through tax foreclosure and are now owned by the Detroit Land Bank.

Voters approved the city government borrowing $250 million in the form of municipal bonds from Wall Street investors. The city aims to raze 8,000 homes. Another 6,000 to 8,000 properties originally slated for demolition could instead be secured and hopefully re-used. All the properties were lost by a private owner through tax foreclosure and are now owned by the Detroit Land Bank.

Detroit needed a new source of funding to continue its widespread campaign to tackle blight. Since 2014, the city has relied on $265 million in federal money to demolish about 21,000 structures. Another 6,000 vacant homes have been rehabbed and occupied since 2014 but federal funding ended last year. 


Contract bids to secure 300 homes to be released next week 

On Tuesday, the city will release contract bids for 300 properties that will be cleared in preparation for potential renovation. The contractors will essentially clean out all debris, cover windows and doors, and fix the roof if necessary on the properties. 

As part of Proposal N, the properties targeted for either demolition or potential redevelopment are citywide. Previously, the federal funding meant demolitions could be only in neighborhoods designated as “hardest hit” by the mortgage crisis in the late 2000s and early 2010s.

City Council member Scott Benson described Proposal N as a “win-win” during a Friday news conference. 

“I’m excited to see the lion’s share of demolition and rehab work being done in neighborhoods that were missed by the blight removal efforts of the past.  It’s even better that most of the work is going to Black-owned and Detroit-based contractors,” Benson said.

Louis Aguilar is BridgeDetroit’s senior reporter. He covered business and development for the Detroit News, and is a former reporter for the Washington Post.

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