If you are not from Detroit and have never been, you probably think, "Oh sure, that city demolishes everyone's old home." And we can understand why you might think that. But here's the thing: we have good neighborhoods, too. And Mitt Romney's childhood Detroit home was in one of the very best. So why did the city tear the Presidential candidate's boyhood home down in 2010? We went looking for answers.
First, some Mistory.
Mitt Romney was a resident of Detroit's Palmer Woods neighborhood at the address 1860 Balmoral Drive until the age of five, when his parents did what white people do, and took the fam to Bloomfield Hills, a suburb of Detroit. The lot at 1860 Balmoral is next to the Van Dusen Mansion mansion which is currently listed for $750 K (1830 Balmoral). In general, the Palmer Woods neighborhood is immaculately maintained when it comes to real estate (and lawns).
Mitt's parents owned the Detroit home from 1941 to 1953 and it was sold several times after they left. But the home fell into disrepair after the housing crisis and was in foreclosure twice. The Second time, the owners abandoned it in the middle of a roof repair job, leaving the home covered with a tarp where the missing roof should have been. Needless to say, things got gross in there pretty fast.
Neighbors, trying to maintain a good real estate reputation and good home values during difficult times, urged the city to knock it down in 2010. We spoke to Kim James, former leader of Detroit's building department to see how this all went down. James says this situation was extra weird, because the home was owned by the county but demolished by the city. At the time in 2010, the city had just gotten a lot of federal funds to removed blighted homes. The goal was to use the funds to stabilize neighborhoods, and the neighbors made the case that good neighborhoods needed stabilization too.
Asked if she knew of any other blighted home demo in Palmer Woods, James responded that it just never happens.
According to Site Control, the 1860 Balmoral lot last sold for $150 K in 2006. The current owner is MCC Enterprise Inc. It is assessed at $31,278. On our tour earlier this week, the lot was quiet with nary a yard sign stumping for either candidate (that seems like a missed opportunity, no?)
While we can't predict how a Mitt win would affect the lot's value we can say this: Mitt will likely be the only former Detroiter to ever say that the city demolished his Palmer Woods boyhood home.
· Mitt Romney's 6 Homes [Zillow Blog]