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Detroit kicks off demolition blitz

Sarah Cwiek
Michigan Radio

The city of Detroit has launched an effort to take down more than 150 vacant homes in one city neighborhood.

The effort kicked off at one intersection in southwest Detroit, where multiple apartment buildings stood vacant and scrapped.

The demolition campaign is part of Mayor Dave Bing’s plans to demolish 1500 abandoned buildings citywide by fall.

It’s also tied to Bing’s Detroit Works project, which is an effort to direct resources into stemming blight in some of the city’s more stable neighborhoods.

Bing’s Group Executive of Planning and Facilities, Karla Henderson, says residents helped decide which buildings should come down first.

“We were working with the community for over a year,” Henderson said. “The residents prioritized the addresses that should come down first, and of course this corner with four apartment buildings and a burnt-out house was at the top of the list.”

Officials and neighborhood activists say it’s key to take down vacant structures because they foster illegal activity, and are a special hazard to children. Community groups and non-profits will follow up the demolitions with beautification projects.

Damon Stanley is with the Springdale-Woodmere block club. He was relieved to see the buildings come down because of what he says used to go on there, and in other abandoned buildings in this largely tidy, densely-populated area.

“Drugs, blight, prostitution,” Stanley said. “There’s a chance little kids could get abducted into one of these places. It’s good to see it gone.”

The larger demolition campaign focuses on abandoned buildings near schools. But it’s separate from Governor Snyder’s plan to send in state resourcesto eradicate blight in other Detroit areas, though that will also center around schools.

Sarah Cwiek joined Michigan Radio in October 2009. As our Detroit reporter, she is helping us expand our coverage of the economy, politics, and culture in and around the city of Detroit.
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