In a city as broke as Detroit, it’s not often that Mayor Dave Bing has good news to report.
But Wednesday afternoon, his office was poised to show the media that the city was demolishing an abandoned two-story apartment building on the west side that had collapsed and become a hazard.
Reporters fled to cover the blaze, which spewed out black smoke that was visible from downtown for nearly two hours. As a lone TV cameraman waited for the press conference to begin, the demolition trucks were stuck in traffic, which came to a halt because of the fire.
The demolition was never covered.
With more than 80,000 vacant houses and buildings across the city, abandonment is among Detroit’s most serious problems. But making headway is difficult as the city continues to cut services to bridge a mounting budget deficit.
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.