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‘Vacant not Blighted’ tour to feature east side homes, resources

In Jefferson-Chalmers and Riverbend

Courtesy of the Detroit Land Bank

Many dream of purchasing and rehabbing a historic home in Detroit on the cheap, but the process can soon become overwhelming as homeowners try to navigate the system. A new tour aims to showcase some of the vacant—but not quite blighted—homes available on the east side. In addition to the tour, resources from community groups will be available for future homeowners.

The Detroit Land Bank and the Michigan Historic Preservation Network (MHPN) will lead the Vacant not Blighted tour through the lower east side. The tour will take place in the Riverbend neighborhood, along with Jefferson-Chalmers, a neighborhood named a National Treasure just a couple years ago. The MHPN will tell stories of residents who once lived in the homes, giving more context to the history of the neighborhood and residences.

“Learning about a building’s past inspires people to see these empty houses as potential future homes, rather than another future demolition,” said Nancy Finegood, executive director of the MHPN. “Older neighborhoods like Jefferson Chalmers usually offer more affordable housing options than newer areas of the city, while also creating employment opportunities for Detroit’s residents of all incomes.”

The event is scheduled for August 18 from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m., and begins at POST at 14500 Kercheval. Tours depart throughout the day. A finance fair hosted by Brick + Beam Detroit will be set up inside POST, with resources for Detroit homebuyers and renovators.

The tour itself is a sidewalk tour, meaning participants won’t actually go in the homes. But the Land Bank will host open houses outside of the tour for anyone interested. This tour was inspired by a Wilkinsburg Vacant Home Tour in Wilkinsburg, Pennsylvania.

Community partners such as Jefferson East Inc., Preservation Detroit, Hope Community Outreach and Development, and Jefferson Chalmers Youth Connection have collaborated on this tour, and sponsors for the event are the Michigan State Housing Development Authority and the Michigan State Historic Preservation Office.