Blight Removal in Detroit to Take 5 years, Cost $850M, Task Force Reports

Posted on May 28, 2014

Photo: Crain’s Detroit Business


It would cost an estimated $850 million to remove all residential and commercial blight in the city’s neighborhoods, the Detroit Blight Elimination Task Force announced Tuesday.

Removal of the 73,035 homes and multifamily buildings that are blighted or have “indicators of future blight” would cost between $629 million and $743 million; commercial blight removal would cost $47 million to $58 million, according to the task force findings, which are called “Every Neighborhood Has a Future … And it Doesn’t Include Blight.”

It estimates all blight can be removed in five years or less.

About $456 million of that cost has been identified for blight removal. Of that, $88 million is available immediately from the Hardest Hit Fund program; the Neighborhood Stabilization Program II; theCommunity Development Block Grant program and others.

The remaining $368 million is expected to be made available through Detroit’s plan of adjustment from its historic Chapter 9 municipal bankruptcy.

Removal of all blight — which includes large-scale commercial buildings — could approach $2 billion, according to the task force.

Dan Gilbert, founder and chairman of Quicken Loans Inc. and Rock Ventures LLC, and one of the task force leaders, said he believes securing the rest of the funding that’s needed will be “the least of the big challenges.”

“Once we start on this en masse, when people see the progress on this, the money is going to come,” Gilbert said.

The task force, which hired 75 two-person survey teams to document blight on all of Detroit’s 380,000 parcels between December and January, released its 330-page report at the FOCUS: Hope building on Oakman Boulevard in front of about 150 people Tuesday morning.

Detroit Emergency Manager Kevyn Orr called this “an unprecedented time and day.”

“For the first time in this city’s history, you have a comprehensive proposal to analyze all the properties in 144 square miles of city, including lakes and rivers, with the resources and technology to address the issue,” Orr said.

There are 84,641 blighted parcels, according to the task force, which is led by a three-person committee of Gilbert; Glenda Price, president of the Detroit Public Schools Foundation and president emeritus ofMarygrove College; and Linda Smith, executive director of U-SNAP-BAC Inc.

The task force reports 5,471 non-residential blighted buildings and 6,135 vacant lots that need cleaning.