Detroit is going to need a lot of dirt: Can the city actually remove 400 blighted homes a week?

Detroit is going to need a lot of dirt: Can the city actually remove 400 blighted homes a week?


Things you might not think about: How much dirt will it take to fill in the holes of the 80,000 abandoned homes in Detroit once the structures are razed? This, along with squatters (an estimated 5 to 10 percent of these homes are still occupied) and paper work (of course paper work), are going to be speed bumps for Detroit as it attempts to rid the city of blight.

Now, maybe more than ever, there is not only the political drive to remove the blight but also the cash. As the Detroit Free Press pointed out:

Everyone is talking about demolishing buildings in Detroit. President Barack Obama pledged $100 million for such efforts in Michigan. In his State of the City address, Mayor Mike Duggan pledged $20 million to get started right away. Detroit emergency manager Kevyn Orr said $500 million will be used to knock down up to 450 properties every week for years.

But back to the dirt. With 80,000 abandoned homes in Detroit, once those structures, along with the basements, are removed, where are we going to get the dirt? The Freep’s John Gallagher digs into the logistics of actually removing these thousands and thousands of structures from Detroit. Here’s an excerpt from his latest:

The goal of a blight-free Detroit was set recently by Detroit emergency manager Kevyn Orr, who proposed in his Feb. 22 reorganization plan that Detroit spend $520 million over six years on blight removal. Orr suggested the city’s demolition pace could ramp up to 400 to 450 houses per week by next year from 100 houses a week today.

He said making Detroit blight-free would “dramatically improve the national perception of the city” and “raise investor confidence and effect lasting change in economic growth and quality of life.”

But one thing Orr didn’t spell out was how the city would achieve that hugely ambitious goal.

Even some of the people involved in blight removal are skeptical that the target can be hit.

“I don’t know that the numbers are achievable just because of the logistics of getting the physical title to the property, getting all the clearance, doing all the other stuff that has to done,” Adamo said. “Everything would have to go right. The process is really time consuming.”

What do you think? Will Orr and Co. hit 400 houses a week? Or is that pie in the sky?