muckraker report

Demolition of 10-block area on Detroit’s east side was teeming with dope, prostitutes, homeless

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When crews began clearing out a 10-block area near Eastern Market two weeks ago, a prostitute cussed out workers because they had removed a dirty mattress she had been using to turn tricks.

Heroin addicts who used to shoot up in a vacant 19th-century church at Pierce and Chene are gone. And trucks that used to dump trash can no longer hide behind abandoned buildings.

Mayor BingNow they’re gone because of a newly established Detroit Blight Authority that leveled 10-12 blocks of land bound by Chene, St. Aubin, Pierce and Wilkins. At the center of the project is Bill Pulte, grandson of the founder of Pulte Homes. He and his team met with Mayor Bing in December and quickly hashed out a directive.

The cost to demolish six houses, level trees, till the land and clean up discarded tires and trash: just $200,000.

“We’re not saying this will fix the entire city, but it’s a good model to start with,” Pulte said today as he and the mayor unveiled the plan. “We made a lot of progress, and we plan to do this throughout the city. We will be meeting with the mayor to determine the best areas in the very near future.”

The authority plans to seek federal and private funds.

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Bill Pulte

To avoid the apparence of impropriety, Pulte has pledged not to invest in property that would benefit from demolition.

“My family has no interest in redeveloping the land,” Pulte said.

Mayor Bing, who has been an outspoken advocate of demolishing abandoned buildings, applauded the project, saying it’s an efficient way to rid the city of blight without using tax dollars.

“I think we are on to something great,” Bing said. “They are going to make a significant difference in how we fix this city.”

So what’s next with the land?

It’s prime real estate. The soil is nutrient-dense, and it’s near Eastern Market, downtown and the freeways.

Several groups are looking to use the property, which is virtually all owned by the city. Among those interested are the adjacent Detroit Edison Public School Academy, urban gardeners and advocates of dredging up a long-buried river.

Here is a video of the land after it was flattened:

Check back for ongoing coverage of this authority.

Steve Neavling

Steve Neavling lives and works in Detroit as an investigative journalist. His stories have uncovered corruption, led to arrests and reforms and prompted FBI investigations.

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  • ondeemand

    Hey, this is a start. I’m not sure why anyone is not happy with this? I guess Bing should have just sat there and not removed any of the blight so that hooker could continue to turn tricks on a dirty mattress. It’s a pilot project. It’s just the beginning.

  • bebow

    This is a very intelligent approach to demolition under the circumstances. Unfortunately, Bing dithered, waiting until the 11th hour to get moving, and once moving, he focused again on the area surrounding downtown. I simply cannot tolerate paying to live like a pig anymore. So, I won’t.

    • UBP

      Bind didn’t get here in the 11th hour. Bing arrived in the 15th hour.

  • http://Facebook Diane

    There is so much blight in the city, this was just the removal of 6 houses. How does it address the greater problem? The people who were further dispossessed by the tearing down of those structures will just move to another area, so the east side is still teeming with all of those same issues, they are just in a new location.