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Blight Blitz Linked to Rising Detroit Property Values

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A new report commissioned by Rock Ventures (parent company of Quicken Loans) found that Detroit property values rise when blighted buildings are removed. The report also found that there's far less cash than needed available to demolish ruined structures. The report, a joint project of Rock and the Skillman Foundation, says that property values rise by roughly 4% within 500 feet of a demo site. The Detroit News extrapolated this to an average of $1,106 per home or over $209 million across the city.

The report is the result of an effort that included 150 Detroit neighbors who helped survey thousands of parcels across the city's 140 square miles. The researchers determined that Detroit has over 80,000 blighted buildings, roughly half of which require demolition. The volunteers collected the data using a method called "blexting," a combination of blight and texting. Not only did the report find that mitigating blight improves property values—not a surprise—it also made a number of suggestions for preventing blight to begin with.

At a time when the city is in the midst of the largest tax auction in US history, where people see bargains instead of blight, this report highlights the role of tax foreclosures and incredibly high property tax rates in creating blight to begin with. One solution the report offers is to change property tax policies because today, fewer than half of property owners in Detroit actually pay property taxes. The report also sees the city's 18 percent interest rate on back taxes as a key contributor to blight and abandonment because the rate ends up "swelling a collection gap that will never close."

Our own coverage of the city's storied blight woes includes many tales of neighbors' grassroots efforts to clean up damaged or derelict homes. Lots of Love's specially outfitted ice cream truck brought tools to neighbors intent on remediating broken buildings. In Brightmoor, we saw a two-year effort from 2011-2013 by the Detroit Blight Authority (DBA) to remove 70 structures from a 14 block swath near Eastern Market. The report shows that this work and larger-scale industrial demolition has real, demonstrable impact. Not surprising, according to Detroit Mayor Mike Duggan.

Mayor Duggan told the Detroit News the report bears out his long-held beliefs about blighted buildings. "The numbers are extraordinary," Duggan told the News. "We have said this all along." No word on tax relief for property owners who might be inclined to maintain rather than abandon. If you live near a blighted building slated for removal, though, this report is pretty good news.

·Detroit Blight Removal Task Force Plan [Detroit Blight Removal Task Force]
·Blight blitz builds up Detroit property values [Detroit News]
·Detroit Blight Removal Task Force Plan [Curbed Detroit]
·Detroit Blight Removal Task Force Plan [Curbed Detroit]
·Fourteen Brightmoor Blocks Saved From Blight and Brush [Curbed Detroit]
·All Wayne County Tax Auction Coverage [Curbed Detroit]