Southwest Detroit neighbors cheer demolition of burned-out buildings | City of Detroit | Detroit Free Press | freep.com1
July 20, 2012 by Benji
Southwest Detroit neighbors cheer demolition of burned-out buildings
Demolition workers from the Farrow Group tear down abandoned and burned-out homes Thursday in southwest Detroit. Mayor Dave Bing said the city is relying on residents input to determine where to focus attention.
Residents gathered to watch the demolition of four buildings on Elsmere in Detroit.Four abandoned buildings were torn down Thursday to the cheers of southwest Detroit residents as Mayor Dave Bing looked on.”As we look around and we see these burned-out structures, it really wreaks havoc on your neighborhoods,” Bing said before two construction cranes began tearing into three apartment buildings and a house in the Springwells area.”Youve identified 158 structures that need to come down. This is the beginning of that,” Bing said.Thursdays demolition is part of Bings neighborhood stabilization plan — known as the Detroit Works Project Short Term Actions — to take down 1,500 of 40,000 dangerous and abandoned structures within the city in 90 days.
Along with that, Gov. Rick Snyders proposal for blight abatement in select areas of the city got a boost Wednesday when the Legislature approved a spending bill that contained $25 million for blight elimination and demolition, with $10 million earmarked for Detroit.
The money will come from the states share of a lawsuit settlement with five national mortgage service companies that were accused of abusive practices in the foreclosure crisis. Snyder said he hopes to put the money to use “as quickly as possible. If we can start this summer, that would be even better.”Thursdays demolition site is on the same block as a house where activists rallied for the arrest and conviction of a local drug dealer dubbed Mr. Pill, who was sent to prison in December.Residents said his customers often got high in the abandoned buildings that came down Thursday.As the red-orange brick shell of the burned-out apartment building at Elsmere and Mason Place fell across the street from her house, Rachel Cruz, 36, a mother of six, thanked Bing for the effort.”Were happy to get it taken care of,” she said.The city chose the area after the persistence of neighborhood activists, including the local group Urban Neighborhood Initiative. UNI executive director Dennis Nordmoe said his group will be working with Greening of Detroit in its battle to keep the neighborhood nice. Ford donated $10,000 for the groups to plant after the demolition is done.”Basically, were trying to clean up these vacant lots now, and put flowers and plants in there,” Nordmoe said.Bing said the city is relying on residents input to determine where to focus attention.”Whats so important here was the involvement of the community,” Bing said. “We think we know what were doing, but we dont live here in the neighborhood.”Luis Garza, 45, who lives on Mason Place with his wife and two children, said he hopes the area can return to peace after waves of arsons in the abandoned buildings — three during the July 4 holiday week.”We are afraid to lose our neighborhood because of situations like this,” Garza said. “Were trying to get it back to how it used to be.”Staff writers Megha Satyanarayana and Dawson Bell contributed to this report.