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Stateside: Concerned residents and their neighborhood improvements


Detroit's revitalization is a recurring topic on Stateside.

The city's vacant buildings are an interactive lesson in real estate and community maintenance.

Today, Stateside focused on neighborhood improvement and community engagement.

Heidi Alcock of the Detroit Vacant Property Campaign and Tom Goddeeris of the Grandmont Rosedale Development Corporation shared their revitalization goals.

Alcock started the Detroit Vacant Property Campaign to reduce the amount of abandoned buildings in Detroit- improving both property value and morale.

“One vacant property can be very dangerous on an otherwise stable block,” said Alcock.

“Beginning with the mortgage foreclosure crisis we’ve seen vacancy rate go from about 2% in 2000 to 11% in 2010. Probably the biggest impact it’s had on our community is that it has driven values down,” said Goddeeris.

According to Alcock, a neighborhood’s vibrancy is largely dependent on its citizens.

“What can neighbors do on the ground, day to day, to keep the quality of life up in their neighborhoods? On the other end of the spectrum, we have to look at big policy and systems issues.”

Goddeeris said that building a successful community stems from people taking an active role in bettering their surroundings.

Alcock is working to provide funding for those looking to improve their surroundings.

“We have a mini granting program, that our organization runs and we provide grants up to $5,000 for collectives of neighbors that are working together,” said Alcock.

“The city of Detroit is in the process of wrapping up the Detroit Works Project. It looks at what you do with high vacancy areas. There is a variety of landscape options that this plan points to. We also have to look at land as a potential driver for economic activity…how do we attract new kinds of industry?” said Alcock.

Discovering uses for vacant land other than home construction could lead also to growth.

“I think people are starting to look at futures for their neighborhoods that use land in different ways,” said Goddeeris.

“Citizens are the greatest asset of a place,” said Alcock.

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