The Detroit Land Bank owns about 95,000 properties in Detroit—including both vacant homes and lots. While the Land Bank auctions homes starting at $1,000 every day, and offers some for sale as is, is it enough?
A new report by Bridge Magazine examines the rate at which the Land Bank is selling homes, and the need for Detroiters to own them. The Land Bank could be a good alternative for those looking to own, but the volume of homes the agency owns combined with a confusing process for listing properties is prohibitive to potential homeowners.
“We own so much land we have a very unique opportunity to use that land in a strategic way to bring back neighborhoods, maybe not to their former glory but to long term sustainability,” Saskia Thompson, executive director of the land bank told Bridge.
What does that look like in certain neighborhoods? We went to Loveland to compare four neighborhoods across the city—the North End, Southwest, Warrendale, and Riverbend. The sheer amount of property the land bank owns tells a compelling story.
In the North End, we’ve seen renovated homes sell for upwards of $200,000 in the past year. The neighborhood is located just north of Midtown, close to the Qline with easy access to many big employers and cultural institutions. In purple, we see how many parcels—homes and land—that are owned by the land bank.
Warrendale on Detroit’s west side is full of smaller single-family homes, which could be affordable to many. The land bank owns over 1,500 properties in this neighborhood. To note: This is one of the neighborhoods where displaced residents of Delray have moved.
In Southwest Detroit, which is one of the city’s target areas for strategic neighborhood investment, we see the further west we go, the more the land bank owns.
On the east side, we’ve talked about Jefferson-Chalmers and its distinction as a “National Treasure.” Just north in Riverbend, the land bank owns a huge chunk of the neighborhood—over 2,200 properties.
The land bank currently sells about 150 homes per month, and they tell Bridge that they want to increase that number to 200.
“People say to us ‘you aren’t putting them up for sale fast enough,’ but there is nothing that we can see in the market there that actually tells us that we are doing this too slowly. I would say it’s the opposite. In some parts of the city, we are 75 percent of all the market activity,” Thompson tells Bridge.
The land bank is currently under investigation for its demolition program.