NCPA - National Center for Policy Analysis


May 17, 2010

Wrecking crews are preparing to tear down a landmark 5,000-square-foot house in the posh neighborhood of Palmer Woods in the coming weeks, a sign that Detroit is finally getting serious about razing thousands of vacant and abandoned structures across the city, says the Wall Street Journal.

In leveling 1860 Balmoral Drive, the boyhood home of one-time presidential candidate and former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney, Detroit is losing a small piece of its history.  But the project is part of a demolition effort that is just now gaining momentum and could help define the city's future, says the Journal:

  • Detroit is finally chipping away at a glut of abandoned homes that has been piling up for decades, and intends to take advantage of warm weather and new federal funding to demolish some 3,000 buildings by the end of September.
  • Mayor Dave Bing has pledged to knock down 10,000 structures in his first term as part of a nascent plan to "right-size" Detroit, or reconfigure the city to reflect its shrinking population.

"When it's all over, there's going to be a lot of empty space," said Karla Henderson, director of the Detroit Building Department, "

Mayor Bing hasn't yet fully articulated his ultimate vision for what comes after demolition, but he has said entire areas will have to be rebuilt from the ground up.  For now, his plan calls for the tracts to be converted to other uses, such as parks or farms.

Even when the demolitions are complete, Detroit will still have a huge problem on its hands.  The city has roughly 90,000 abandoned or vacant homes and residential lots, according to Data Driven Detroit, a nonprofit that tracks demographic data for the city.

Source: Alex P. Kellogg, "Detroit Shrinks Itself, Historic Homes and All," Wall Street Journal, May 14, 2010.

For text:


Browse more articles on Tax and Spending Issues