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How Not to Rebuild Detroit


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How Not to Rebuild Detroit

Brush Park redevelopment plan is as neglected as neighborhood

From the Detroit News - September 26, 2005

A deeply flawed redevelopment program has allowed Detroit's historic Brush Park neighborhood to fall into seemingly irreparable disrepair.

Once a community of flourishing town houses and mansions, the district today, according to some experts, should be prime territory for revival given its proximity to downtown Detroit, Comerica Park and Ford Field.

There have been a handful of impressive restorations in the district, along with a successful new housing tract being built by Crosswinds Communities. But the city's development plan, drawn up in 1989 and updated twice, remains largely unfulfilled. It initially called for the construction of 1,500 homes and town houses; the condemnation, purchase and demolition of upwards of 100 buildings; and payment of moving and relocation costs for an estimated 500 people.

Experts say the lack of progress casts doubt on the city's overall ability to deal with one of its most pressing problems: blight and abandonment.


City's property deals reflect a need for policy

A review of property transactions in Brush Park shows the city lacks a standard policy for acquiring, pricing and disposing of properties in the district.

According to a copy of the development agreement between the city and Debroe, the building company paid $8,764 for the run-down mansion and two adjacent city-owned lots.

That compares with the $12,000 Bill Atwood paid the city for his gutted 7,000-square-foot mansion on Edmund in 1992, or the $65,000 Detroit paid Henrietta Lash in 2001 for an uninhabitable two-flat apartment building on Winder, or the $70,000 that in 2001 Wendy Readous paid The Michael C. Francis Corp. of Detroit for the brick shell at Watson and Brush that Wayne County prosecutors have called a public nuisance.

In August, Harry Hagood, the then-director of development for the city, touted the project at 104 Edmund as proof Brush Park was coming back.

When asked how Debroe acquired the property, Hagood, who signed off on the sale, said: "They wrote us a letter and we put together a deal."

He said the city did not auction the property, make it available to the public or even solicit development proposals.

Hagood abruptly resigned last month after it was discovered he had brokered the sale of several other city-owned homes for less than appraised value. The city auditor general is looking into all of the land deals brokered by the city Planning and Development Department.

It's a long article and you can read the rest of it here

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Here's some more crappy reporting from the Detroit News....

I'm sure the article was born with the good intention of pointing out the mismanagement that has occured in the neighborhood, but apparently the author of the article is pretty much oblivious to the changes that have occured in the past five years.

"The spacious home at 104 Edmund that once adorned a vibrant Brush Park in 1885 now sits abandoned and neglected."

Which is probably why the quote is accompanied by this photo:


The Ellington Lofts photo they have is out of date, now that the steel framework has been done for months.

Their map of abandoned properties is wrong. They've got 261, 287, & 295 Alfred marked as abandoned, but if you've driven down the street anytime within the past month or two, you would see that those three houses are currently being renovated. And that store at Alfred & Brush? It's not abandoned either.

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I should, but it'll probably be the end of the week by the time I have time to do anything about it. I need to get up in 4 hours so I can finish my model & drawings by 10:00am so I can go to class until 12:30. Then I have to get to the camera store that's going out of business...everything is 50% off Tuesday only. Then I have class from 2:30pm until 8:30pm. I have my plate full....

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Yeah, the Ellington Loft photo cracked me up too


A sign of hope: An abandoned site at Mack Avenue and Woodward sports a sign announcing the construction of lofts.

Seriously, how old is this picture and caption?

I like the fact they named out the property owners which didn't withhold their end of the bargain, but I take offense to the image they are portaying about the Brush Park area. Sure it's been a little slow, but what do you expect. Don't think Crosswinds is a success, just look at how the prices for those townhouses have skyrocketed since they were built.

Now those people that know me, know that I some what pesimistic, but Brush Park is the one of those places gives you hope when you realize that no building is too far gone. I wish crosswinds still had pictures of the brownstones on their website. That is truely a success story and should be something that is brought up everytime these slumlords let the buildings they were supposed to renovate sit an rot until they can demolish them.

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The thing is to me, that Crosswinds development is nice on the surface but was proposed almost 10 years ago. The same company managed to get every last proposed development built in Royal Oak in a third of the time- the resale values are high. That's the problem with any development in the city- and I love Detroit. The red tape is like a spider web. I once talked with a former city planner about the BandB's over on Ferry- she told me the same. There is no better way to hault progress in a city that lacks the economic draw a Chicago has than to burden them with taxes and government red tape that is indeed, through the roof.

Peace to Detroit

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