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Abandoned Packard Factory.
Big news coming from the Motor City. Quicken Loans founder Dan Gilbert announced he has joined a three person task force to figure out how to tear down an estimated 78,000 abandoned buildings and homes in Detroit:
At the recent Techonomy Conference at Wayne State University, Gilbert hinted he was thinking beyond downtown when he said: “To get the neighborhoods going, we’ve got to take town the 78,000 or so—we don’t even know the exact number of structures that need to be taken down, mostly houses. Once we can get that done, you will have open pieces of land, and you’re going to have, more importantly, hope and optimism.”

And Gilbert means demolishing every last abandoned structure. He even discussed erecting a big count-down board to keep score.

“Maybe I’m out of my mind, which I am for various reasons,” he said. "You get these structures down and, I mean, all of them, not most of them, all of them.”

The announcement came on the heels of an announcement that Detroit officials will receive $300 million in public and private funds:
Emergency Manager Kevyn Orr called it an “unprecedented day in the history of Detroit” as he stood with a cadre of local, state and national officials announcing a plan for the city to utilize $300 million in public and private funds.

Blight, public safety, transportation and information technology are the key areas where money and energy will be placed, he added.

He's not just tearing down abandoned structures, he's helping to rebuild at the same time:
Gilbert’s play downtown, though, shows he is not the usual Detroit business leader. And, not surprising for someone who owns casinos, he’s a gambler. His Rock Ventures has brought 9,200 employees to Detroit’s central business district in three years and has purchased more than 30 buildings with 7.5 million square feet of office space, which is more than two Packard Plants, speaking of blight.

Gilbert is also playing a key role in another project that has vexed leaders for decades: Mass transit. One of his top lieutenants is Matt Cullen, the CEO of the M1 rail line on Woodward Avenue, which is scheduled to break ground in the coming weeks.

The New York Times said Gilbert’s downtown investments “amount to one of the most ambitious privately financed urban reclamation projects in American history.” It added: “If this area turns around, no one will profit quite like Mr. Gilbert, but the risk looks as great as the potential reward.”

He's rumored to have purchased three other high profile buildings in downtown Detroit as recently as September.
Should Gilbert be behind those deals, Capitol Park's future—already bright with the impending renovations of the Griswold Apartments, as well as the Farwell, Capitol Park, and United Way Buildings—just got a whole lot more exciting.
It may the dawn of a new day in Detroit.

Originally posted to Scout Finch on Wed Oct 02, 2013 at 11:21 AM PDT.

Also republished by Motor City Kossacks.

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Comment Preferences

  •  He is a monster nt (0+ / 0-)

    nosotros no somos estúpidos

    by a2nite on Wed Oct 02, 2013 at 11:27:45 AM PDT

  •  I just talked to one of his top insiders (8+ / 0-)

    yesterday and the problem they have now with purchasing property from the city is that the city is going through bankruptcy court and many of the properties in question don't actually have deeds.

    Crazy huh? No deeds on vacant property... He says this is going to be a long and painful process.

  •  It's going to be all Walmarts. I mean (0+ / 0-)

    let's be honest. That's the playbook. If not Walmarts out the wazoo then condominium city with massive gentrification efforts; actually that will definitely happen regardless. Detroit is begging to be a hipster mecca.

    Still all that is better than the way it is now I guess. Jobs is jobs.

    If I knew it was going to be that kind of party, I'd have stuck my ---- in the mashed potatoes! - Paul's Boutique

    by DoctorWho on Wed Oct 02, 2013 at 11:37:35 AM PDT

    •  Condominiums are bad? (4+ / 0-)

      These are decaying structures that have not been occupied in years... someone wanting to come and build NEW THINGS on their own dime is now something we shit on?

      So if the poor decrepit neighborhoods are ignored and new housing is built in better neighborhoods its ghettoization.  If we invest in the run-down neighborhoods to build new housing its gentrification.  If we decide to not build anything at all its Urban Blight.

      ok...  this is the same damn you if you do/fuck you if you dont nonsense that got tossed around DC when this city was going through its biggest renaissance in decades.

      Красота спасет мир --F. Dostoevsky

      by Wisper on Wed Oct 02, 2013 at 11:45:40 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

    •  Gentrification is about pushing people out. (5+ / 0-)

      Detroit's neighborhoods have massive areas of empty space and empty buildings.

      Massive redevelopment could occur without dislocating anyone.

      Art is the handmaid of human good.

      by joe from Lowell on Wed Oct 02, 2013 at 01:59:44 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

  •  all the rich people live in Grosse Pointe (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:

    which is/are their own cities, so Detroit proper doesn't affect them.  So long as their commute to downtown is free of visible blight, they're fine with letting the rest of it rot.

    Domestic politics is the continuation of civil war by other means.

    by Visceral on Wed Oct 02, 2013 at 11:40:51 AM PDT

  •  Uh...this was the plot of 'Robocop'! (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:

    And we all know how well THAT turned out. Will they be putting ED-209s on every street corner too?

    Bacon pancakes, makin' bacon pancakes. Take some bacon and I'll put it in a pancake. Bacon pancakes, that's what it's gonna make - bacon pancakes!

    by Fordmandalay on Wed Oct 02, 2013 at 11:53:50 AM PDT

  •  Crisis Capitalism (4+ / 0-)

    This developer is of course interested because he wants to derive a private benefit from various public goods that are still extant in Detroit -- transportation infrastructure, utilities, etc. However, all these darned abandoned buildings are in the way. Before feeling good about this, I'd have to have a better understanding of what the public gets in return.

    For all of Bloomberg's faults, new development in New York City has always condescended to offer something to the public at large and to people with modest incomes. New apartment towers that are built in Manhattan must have a certain number of units of affordable housing. New commercial developments must have a certain amount of public space.

    Talking about jobs is great -- yay, jobs! But it would be good if there was a policy in place to make sure that a few developers aren't able to turn downtown Detroit into private plantations of a sort.

    "I'll believe that corporations are people when I see Rick Perry execute one."

    by bink on Wed Oct 02, 2013 at 12:06:35 PM PDT

  •  Dan Gilbert is a good guy... (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Jen Hayden, Sychotic1

    He's done a lot for his adopted city of Cleveland (he owns the Cleveland Cavaliers), and he really got screwed over by LeBron James (the man Gilbert foolishly trusted to be honest with him).  He's not the kid of guy that's going to build WalMarts or million dollar condos on these properties.  He'll do what's good for the city, I'm confident of that.

    Good for him and good for Detroit... As a historian, I will miss a lot of those old ruins.  I know they are blight, but they are also history... presented in a way that is very unusual for this day and age.


    by LordMike on Wed Oct 02, 2013 at 12:22:38 PM PDT

  •  That makes sense - (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Jen Hayden

    Take down the abandoned parts of the city, return it to nature or repurpose for farming.

    •  Some greenspaces would be nice (0+ / 0-)

      and some infill with high density living, which is better for the environment than commuting from the suburbs.

      "I watch Fox News for my comedy, and Comedy Central for my news." - Facebook Group

      by Sychotic1 on Wed Oct 02, 2013 at 01:09:16 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

  •  The diary title might be misconstrued as critical (4+ / 0-)

    of Mr. Gilbert's intentions.

    There will, of course, be some gentrification, but

    If Gilbert, Roberts and their team meet with success, it essentially will create a new city, and one that would be ripe for the sustainable metropolis of swales, ponds and green neighborhoods set out earlier this year in the Detroit Future City plan.
    That plan specifically calls for mixed neighborhoods of market-rate and affordable housing.

    Block-sized parcels of vacant land, in-town with streets and utilities in place, adjacent to brand-new light rail transit, will be catnip to developers of affordable homes.

    It's the infrastructure of existing utilities - sewers in particular - that will deter the wholesale replacement of single-family homes with high-rise condos. Instead, Detroit can build the kind of medium-density, mixed-use development that helps makes public transit viable.

    “It is useless to attempt to reason a man out of a thing
    he was never reasoned into” - Jonathan Swift

    by jjohnjj on Wed Oct 02, 2013 at 01:33:41 PM PDT

  •  I always thought (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Jen Hayden

    that Detroit would end up being a golden business opportunity for someone with the cash to do it in a big way. Buy big, buy cheap, rebuild, and cash in.

  •  You can get in on it also. (0+ / 0-)

    Last I heard, houses were selling for around $10,000. Young artists were buying these houses in one area, and renovating them. I think this is exciting. Does anyone know whether this action makes the art collection safe? That Orr guy was getting it appraised.

    •  I'm not privy to any inside info about this plan, (3+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      whenwego, HappyinNM, mftalbot

      but the "houses selling for $10,000" is true only on a neighborhood-by-neighborhood basis. There are some working-, middle- and upper-class areas of the city where housing is substantially more expensive than that. The housing stock is stable and the residents are deeply committed to their areas.

      That's not to say that it isn't a good and sometimes cheap place for revitalization, though some aspects of city bureaucracy do make that difficult (and have for a long time).

      One of the reasons I'm very much looking forward to NN14 being in Detroit--as a lifelong resident of the area and a member of the host committee--is to have the chance to dispel some of the myths and fantasies that have arisen about Detroit.

      Yes, the city is in very tough shape. Yes, there are many more vacant buildings than can productively be rehabbed. Still, mowing them down willy-nilly is probably not the best course of action.

      I fervently hope that Gilbert with all his billions doesn't act like a Bigfoot and stomp all over the local activists who have put heart and soul into the city for years.

      Here's part of a statement from Preservation Wayne, a long-established historical preservationist group:

      [A] one-size-fits-all approach to blight mitigation — where the only solution is a bulldozer — is the wrong decision for Detroit....

      [We] believe this should be a community effort, not a vision handed down from on high. Dozens of community organizations throughout the city have been working on strategies for vacant lot re-use, neighborhood revitalization, and creative rehab, from the Greening of Detroit and Motor City Blight Busters to Southwest Housing Solutions and neighborhood CDCs like the Grandmont Rosedale Development Corporation.

      The whole statement is worth reading, and their website generally is also good to peruse. As we on the host committee start to figure out what sorts of background information we can productively offer to NN14 attendees, resources offered by groups like Preservation Wayne--and the neighborhood-based organizations they cite for their activism--will be key.

      And a PS: Whatever is involved with this plan will have nothing to do at all with the integrity of the DIA's holdings.

      Support Small Business: Shop Kos Katalogue If you'd like to join the Motor City Kossacks, send me a Kosmail.

      by peregrine kate on Wed Oct 02, 2013 at 03:22:45 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

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