DETROIT (WWJ) – Marathon Petroleum is offering to buy hundreds of homes in a small southwest Detroit neighborhood.

It’s part of a voluntary relocation program for residents who want to bail from Detroit’s Oakwood Heights neighborhood, where major industry surrounds hundreds of residential properties.

Marathon, who is one of those industrial neighbors, intends to create nearly 100 acres of green space adjacent to its expanded refinery by offering to purchase all residential properties in the immediate neighborhood and help people find another place to live.

“Due to their close proximity to surrounding industries, many Oakwood Heights residents have expressed their desire for a property buyout,” said Tracy Case, manager of MPC’s Michigan Refining Division in a release. “We have listened to our neighbors and have designed a voluntary program to enable Oakwood Heights residents to relocate to an alternative neighborhood.”

“The refinery expansion strengthens the long-term viability of Michigan’s only refinery. It’s creating thousands of construction jobs and will add 135 permanent positions at the refinery,” said Case. “Marathon Petroleum is proud to have an important role in the future of Detroit, while at the same time being responsive to our neighbors’ interests.”

So how does the program work?

Chris Fox, a spokeswoman for the company, says they will look at the average appraised price of the home and would then offer a premium on that value.

“If the appraised value were $30,000 that means they would get $40,000 dollars plus $15,000. In addition to that they would get $5,000 in relocation expenses, and if they sign up within a two-month period they would get another $1,000 dollars,” said Fox.

Resident Dennis Smyth, who has lived in the area for 40 years, says he likes the idea of  the buyout, but doesn’t think Marathon will give him the $80,000 he’s asking for his house.

He adds that he won’t move for less than his asking price.

Residents can sign up through February.

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