DETROIT (WWJ) – The Detroit Blight Authority is hoping to knock down 67 blighted buildings and clear 21 blocks of brush and debris by the spring.
Speaking live on WWJ, businessman Bill Pulte said the nonprofit group is targeting the Brightmoor district, on the city’s west side. He said it will be the largest cleared area of blight
removal in any Detroit neighborhood.
“There’s 7,000 kids in Brightmoor, so as we looked at an area to go into, one of the things that we wanted to do was ‘How do we affect 7,000 kids?’ And so we removed the brush, the trash, the debris and we cleaned it all up. And now with our 14 block perimeter, which will soon be added to a 21 block perimeter, making 35 blocks of blight-free zone. You’ll have an open view and now it will be a safe area,” he said.
The Blight Demonstration Zone consists of two new projects. The first is within the 96-acre perimeter of Brightmoor that has already been cleared of brush. Within the 14 block area, structure demolition of 67 vacant homes will begin in May, pending approval by the city. The remaining 21 blocks to be cleared of brush and vacant structures will extend south of the 14 blocks, stretching to I-96.
The Brightmoor project, the third for the Detroit Blight Authority, is expected to cost between $700,000 and $900,000. The money would come from the Michigan State Housing Development Authority, Skillman Foundation and other groups. Two other removal projects have occurred on the city’s east side.
Pulte said a major problem in Detroit is that blight and crime go hand-in-hand.
“I think crime is a function of blight. In other words, most of the crime that we see in Detroit actually occurs through the blight or because of the psychological effects of the blight,” he said.
The only way to keep areas blight free, Pulte said, is with community involvement.
“The way to do it is to partner with the community, that’s the only way to do it and keep up the area. You know, it’s like the broken windows theory in New York, where if you throw out a window it’s going to keep on going all the way through. But if you stop and hold people accountable for breaking the window in the first place and create an environment where that’s not satisfactory, it won’t happen,” he said.
Pulte said they are seeking government approvals to start clearing part of the 35-block site and hopes to finish that phase by June 1.