Interactive map: Everything you wanted to know about Detroit’s 7,740 demolitions

A Detroit Land Bank demolition. Photo By Steve Neavling.
A Detroit Land Bank demolition. Photo By Steve Neavling.

By Steve Neavling
Motor City Muckraker

The city of Detroit released an impressive interactive map and database that show all 7,740 demolitions, how much each cost and who received the contracts since Mayor Mike Duggan took office in January 2014.

The map shows the breadth of the unprecedented number of demolitions in Detroit’s neighborhoods that were hardest hit by foreclosures following the economic downturn that sent home prices plummeting.

On some blocks, 10 or more houses have been demolished as the city aggressively tackles blight that has spread like cancer across Detroit’s neighborhoods.

“We are committed to running a program that is operationally transparent,” Brian Farkas, special projects manager for the Detroit Building Authority, told me. “We want to show the city, the state and the country what we are doing.”

Here’s a sampling of the areas with a lot of demolitions:

The interactive site also includes a sortable database of every demolition, the cost for each one, the contractor and the address and date of every razed house and commercial building.

The costs varied from $1,950 to demolish a small house on the west side to $367,000 to raze the abandoned Garvey K-8 school on the east side. The average cost to demolish a house was $13,908, according to an analysis of the data.

Here are the five companies that demolished the most houses and commercial buildings.

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Demolitions slowed considerably in the fall of 2014, largely because of funding issues and the limited number of equipment for companies to knock down the houses, haul off the debris and bring in dirt to fill in the holes, city officials said.

“By the end of 2017, we’ll have 20,000 homes down,” Duggan pledged during the State of the City this week.

The average cost of demolitions increased 26.2% – from $11,363 to $15,391 – between the summer of 2014 and the summer of 2015. So far in January and February 2016, the average cost dipped slightly to $14,996. 

“A majority of the demolitions were bid out, so the (price of demolitions) is an accurate reflection of the market at the time,” Farkas told me.

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Despite the demolition slowdown, the city is razing far more houses and commercial buildings than any past administration, largely because of federal funding from President Obama’s administration and the aggressive campaign by the Detroit Land Bank to eliminate blight.

City officials believe the rapid pace of the demolitions is why arson fires continue to decline because there are fewer houses to burn down.

The map and data will be updated at least once a week, Farkas said.

“We’re proud of the work our demolition program has done to clean up blight in our neighborhoods,” the mayor’s office said in a statement. “We’re also committed to transparency, and this website will allow everyone to see details on every one of the nearly 8,000 blighted homes that we’ve torn down, as well as stay up to date on the average price and where we’re doing demolitions.”

DemoBarChart

 

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.

  • Tom

    This would be innovation; Warrendale is losing many post war homes that are structurally sound. These are not large homes and can be easily moved and staged into an assembly line.
    Rebuilt and upgraded with additions then moved onto the wide open spaces of Brightmoor sited on a modern lot, infrastructure with a new basement.
    There is plenty of land and room to move homes.
    Regeneration of Detroit will come from the outside in.
    Families do not want to live downtown, midtown or corktown they want a modern safe clean area of single family homes with local schools and reliable services.

    • Third World Detroit

      Sounds expensive.

      • Tom

        No more expensive than building new, they saved and moved 3 full 2 story homes into cork town in the 1980’s I believe they are at Bagley & Brooklyn. The Gem Theater was moved to the site it is on today.
        Moving houses is cost effective and environmentally sound.
        The majority of homes being demolished are solid structures that are physically worthy of renovation.

        • Third World Detroit

          How much do you estimate it would cost to relocate and rehabilitate one of these houses, and how much do you believe one might sell for in Brightmoor?

          • Tom

            Sorry for the delayed reply.
            That question would apply to a developer building new as well as using existing homes which are all but free.
            Just like most ventures higher volume reduces costs.

            Move more homes in a fixed time the costs go down.
            House goes from old site to a new site and basement rebuild the house.

            I don’t know if Habitat for Humanity has considered the concept.
            I’m sure Illitch or Gilbert could make it work if they peeled away some fu money and lead such an effort turning a profit redeveloping Brightmoor with affordable rebuilt housing.
            Unfortunately that’s not where their interests are.
            The tax breaks on downtown projects have always come at the expense of neighborhoods.

            Approaching 50 years after the Detroit uprising I hear the the comeback bs phrases I heard back then.

  • Tom

    This would be innovation; Warrendale is losing many post war homes that are structurally sound. These are not large homes and can be easily moved and staged into an assembly line.
    Rebuilt and upgraded with additions then moved onto the wide open spaces of Brightmoor sited on a modern lot, infrastructure with a new basement.
    There is plenty of land and room to move homes.
    Regeneration of Detroit will come from the outside in.
    Families do not want to live downtown, midtown or corktown they want a modern safe clean area of single family homes with local schools and reliable services.

  • Blue Crow

    And, this is supposed to be an interactive map? I can’t get it to display anything useful. I wonder how much the incompetent clowns at city hall might have paid for this poorly designed piece of junk?

  • Interesting. I just finished blogging about a video I shot of a house demolition. Part of the video was used in a Free Press article about lead dust from home demolitions. The house I videoed cost $18,687.40 to tear down. Here’s the link to my blog post if you want to see the video. http://www.detroitvideodaily.com/2016/02/popular-video.html

  • Sizz

    So a few select demolition contractors are multi-millionaires many times over thanks to us? Just how many buildings will be left in Detroit after all this is over?

  • nolimitdetroiter

    What kind of article is this, a couple of maps with some dots, some drivel sent out by the administration saying it costs almost 14 thou to tear down a building….doing a bit of the math, it looks like Adamo took in 30 million last year.
    Shortage of equipment, BS, put the contracts out on a legit. bid…..competent contractors will clog the roads coming from Ca, Fl NY, any place where the work is slow.
    It doesn’t cost 14 grand to tear down a house, why don’t they put the entire block up for bids instead of a single dwelling anyway?
    Try and do a decent job of reporting…..why is the city paying so much for demolitions…..who is getting paid. I forget just who is in charge of Detroit’s Neighborhoods, that is who could be looked at first. Elrick and Leduff get to the bottom of these kind of situations.
    Copying flimsy press releases is not journalism…..except in Detroit.

    • muckraker_steve

      Most of the questions you are asking are available on the city’s new website, which is what the story is about. This particular story lets residents know that they can investigate the price, contracts and contractors on the site. We have written stories about the Land Bank contractors and the rising costs. Have you even bothered to click on the link to the site?

      • Ann Frantz-Realtor®

        Steve-having trouble finding your Landbank stories…would like to read

  • All this transparency… It feels so weird, but I kind of like it.

    • Donald E. Hodge

      I am glad I wasn`t the only one who noticed that.