Press Room

Detroit getting $50 million to fight blight - 12/16/14
Detroit News

Detroit — Michigan is splitting $75 million in federal funding between 12 cities, including nearly $50 million for Detroit, in its latest battle to reduce blight in the state, the governor's office announced Tuesday.

The federal aid has been a key part of Detroit Mayor Mike Duggan's anti-blight effort as the city has worked toward exiting bankruptcy. The city has more than 40,000 vacant structures.


DBusiness 2.jpg

Hamtramck and Highland Park to Begin Surveying Blight - 10/17/14
Samantha R. Fisher - DBusiness

City officials from Hamtramck and Highland Park on Monday will begin surveying and assessing the scope of blight at more than 13,000 property parcels in both cities.

An application called Motor City Mapping, the same app used to survey properties in Detroit, will help the city leaders to understand the scope of blight in their communities and gain a regional understanding of the issues facing them, says Kathy Angerer, director of Community and Economic Development of Hamtramck.


Survey to assess Highland Park, Hamtramck properties - 10/17/14
Candice Williams - Detroit News

Beginning Monday, residents in Hamtramck and Highland Park may see surveyors canvasing the streets — smartphone in hand — to capture images and assess the conditions of 13,000 parcels in both cities.

The week-long effort using Motor City Mapping technology follows an initial survey of Detroit in 2013.


How Detroit has streamlined its fight against blight - 9/30/14
PBS News Hour 

Facing the largest municipal bankruptcy in American history, Detroit has adopted diverse solutions to give itself a facelift. The city is tackling blight and dilapidated homes with help from technology like smartphone apps and online crowdsourcing, and offering incentives to attract new residents. Special correspondent Christy McDonald of Detroit Public Television investigates Detroit’s progress. 



'Blexting' (blight+texting) app enlists community to help Detroit fight blight - 7/15/14 
David Muller - MLive

DETROIT, MI - With grant money available, community groups ranging from block clubs to non-profit organizations will be able to essentially employ people to help document the city’s 378,723 properties.

It’s part of a group effort by Data Driven Detroit, Rock Ventures, the Detroit Land Bank Authority, Loveland Technologies and funded by the JP Morgan Chase Foundation to help reduce the city’s blight.

After already competing the exhaustive Motor City Mapping project, the group is now releasing a "Blexting" mobile application for Android devices and expects the app to be available on Apple products in the coming weeks.


Residents in Detroit get trained to use smartphone app, help update blighted property database - 7/15/14 
Corey Williams - Associated Press

DETROIT - One of the latest weapons helping Detroit in its long battle with blight and vacant houses isn't a super-powered bulldozer or millions of dollars in funding for demolitions.

It's a simple mobile app called "blexting" — short for blight texting — that can be downloaded free for Android devices and used to relay information and photos to a massive database on all land in the 139-square-mile city.


New App Invites Residents To Help City Update List Of Blighted Properties In Detroit - 7/15/14 WWJ/Newsradio 950-CBS Detroit

DETROIT (WWJ/AP) – Want to report a blighted home in Detroit? All you have to do is check an app on your smart phone.

Motor City Mapping is a part of the group which spent the winter months completing a survey off all 380,000 parcels of land in the city – they are asking community groups to keep the information on blighted properties updated by “blexting” – short for blight and texting.

The app can be downloaded free for Android devices and is used to relay information and photos to a massive database on all land in the 139-square-mile city.


Detroit Urged to Tear Down 40,000 Buildings - 5/28/14
Monica Davey - The New York Times

DETROIT — A task force convened by the Obama administration issued the most detailed study yet of blight in Detroit on Tuesday and recommended that the city spend at least $850 million to quickly tear down about 40,000 dilapidated buildings, demolish or restore tens of thousands more, and clear thousands of trash-packed lots.

It also said that the hulking remains of factories that dot Detroit, crumbling reminders of the city’s manufacturing prowess, must be salvaged or demolished, which could cost as much as $1 billion more.


Clearing Detroit's blight will cost city almost $2bn, taskforce report finds - 5/27/14
Dominic Rushe - The Guardian

There are 84,641 blighted structures and vacant lots in Detroit and almost half should be demolished, at a cost of almost $2bn, according to a new report released Tuesday.

The Detroit Blight Removal Task Force’s much-anticipated study gives the most definitive picture to date of the scale of the bankrupt city’s woes.

The taskforce, established by President Obama in 2013, found the city would need as much as $850m just to tackle its crumbling and burnt-out residential structures in the next few years...



Blight removal in Detroit to take 5 years, cost $850M, task force reports - 5/27/14
Krik Pinho - Crain's Detroit Business

It would cost an estimated $850 million to remove all residential and commercial blight in the city's neighborhoods, the Detroit Blight Elimination Task Force announced Tuesday.
Removal of the 73,035 homes and multifamily buildings that are blighted or have “indicators of future blight” would cost between $629 million and $743 million; commercial blight removal would cost $47 million to $58 million, according to the task force findings, which are called “Every Neighborhood Has a Future … And it Doesn't Include Blight.”


JPMorgan Chase to invest $100M in Detroit development, job training, home loans - 5/20/14
John Gallagher - Detroit Free Press

Detroit’s revitalization hopes are getting a boost from one of the deepest-pocketed players in U.S. finance.

JPMorgan Chase, the nation’s biggest bank, will announce Wednesday that it is investing $100 million in Detroit over five years, strengthening the city’s redevelopment efforts, speeding up blight removal, helping train city residents for new jobs, and making mortgage money available for home loans.


Deconstructing Detroit: Nonprofit sets out to destroy the monster of 'ruin porn' one abandoned home at a time - 5/14
Casey Nesterowich - Hour Detroit Magazine

In a neighborhood near Henry Ford Hospital called Northwest Goldberg, a boarded-up home at the corner of the block is surrounded by overgrown trees and broken glass. It’s a common example of “ruin porn” overplayed by the media.

Eliminating decay in Detroit is a monstrous undertaking, but if Reclaim Detroit and the Detroit Blight Removal Task Force do what they intend to do, things are about to change — for the better.


Detroit blight task force co-chair Glenda Price: Clean-up efforts will be 'very visible' - 4/30/14
David Muller - MLive

DETROIT, MI – A blight-fighting task force that was set up in September is already operating in six Detroit neighborhoods after completing a comprehensive property review and creating a database, according to one of the group’s co-chairs.

Glenda Price, who co-chairs the Detroit Blight Removal Task Force with Quicken Loans founder and chairman Dan Gilbert and U-Snap-Bac executive director Linda Smith, said Wednesday that now decisions are being made with the Detroit Land Bank as to which homes should be demolished or auctioned off, for example.


Blight eradication discussed at Detroit event - 4/30/14
Associated Press

Detroit — The results of a survey of abandoned structures and vacant lots across Detroit will be presented in mid- to late May, the co-chair of the city’s Blight Removal Task Force said Wednesday during a panel discussion.

Multiple projects to eradicate blight eventually will take place at the same time, but much of the attention will be placed on some of Detroit’s hardest hit neighborhoods, Glenda Price told business and community leaders at a Detroit Economic Club luncheon.

The city’s Land Bank also is examining the economic development potential of blighted properties, she added.


Treasury Secretary Lew impressed with Detroit blight removal - 4/25/14
Brent Snavely - Detroit News

U.S. Treasury Secretary Jack Lew was so impressed with Detroit’s blight removal program during his two-day visit that he said the city could get more federal money to tear down more homes.

Lew toured Detroit’s homes south of Marygrove College on Thursday, where he was shown the first home torn down under a blight removal program that is partially supported by federal funds.


Obama, Michigan in talks to free up $100M to aid Detroit pension deal - 4/16/14
Matt Helms, Stephen Henderson, and Todd Spangler - Detroit Free Press

The Obama administration and state officials are in discussions on a deal that would free up an additional $100 million to soften the blow to Detroit pensioners, two people familiar with the talks told the Free Press late Tuesday.

The two sources, who spoke on condition of anonymity because they weren’t authorized to disclose the information, confirmed that there have been talks about the federal government supporting a move by the state to give Detroit $100 million in federal money for blight remediation.


Detroit announces online auction in blight fight - 4/14/14
Associated Press

DETROIT -- Detroit officials will soon have a new tool to help them fight blight: an auction website to give vacant, city-owned houses to people willing to quickly fix them up, city leaders said Monday.

Beginning May 5, one home will be auctioned each day on the land bank website. Of the 15 homes currently listed for sale, the first dozen are located in Detroit's East English Village neighborhood.


Dan Gilbert: Detroit blight survey may not be 'dramatically different' than previous counts - 4/3/14
Louis Aguilar - Detroit News

Detroit — The effort to survey all 380,217 parcels in Detroit to figure how much blight plagues the city has not come up with “dramatically different” numbers from previous efforts to quantify the pervasive problem, said one of the co-chairs of the Detroit Blight Task Force.

Dan Gilbert, one of three co-chairs behind the new effort, made that description of the new count earlier this week. Results of the survey were initially expected to be released this week, but the tough winter and the ambitious goals of the task force means the results will be released at the end of this month or early May, Gilbert and other officials said.


Completed Detroit blight report expected in April - 3/26/14
Associated Press

A survey of vacant houses, buildings and abandoned lots across Detroit is expected to go to the mayor and the state-appointed emergency manager next month.

Detroit Blight Removal Task Force co-chair Glenda Price told The Associated Press on Wednesday that the group is delaying its report on 380,217 structures and vacant parcels until mid- to late-April because it’s merging more information into its database.


Paperwork, squatters, dirt just a few hurdles in Detroit blight blitz - 3/16/14
John Gallagher Detroit Free Press

Standing between Detroit and its goal of razing 80,000 blighted houses in six years is a set of logistical challenges almost as mountainous as some of the landfills where the debris will be buried.

Among those hurdles: finding enough dirt to fill the 80,000 holes left when structures and basements are removed. And finding enough trucks to haul all the debris to landfills. And training enough new workers in skills such as asbestos removal.


Recycling Detroit's building past: How do you save bricks, wood from landfills? - 3/16/14
John Gallagher Detroit Free Press

The bricks, wood and other valuable building materials are there for everyone to see on many of Detroit’s 80,000 blighted houses.

But a major unknown as the city gears up to raze all of those structures in just six years is how effectively the city and its partners can salvage and recycle the material.

Detroit already enjoys a small “deconstruction industry” in which wood and other material are removed from houses being demolished and then sold or reused. The nonprofit Reclaim Detroit operation turns some salvaged wood into kitchen cutting boards and other for-sale objects. Artists are using reclaimed wood for tables, chairs, bookcases and other furniture.


Using a High-Tech Toolkit, the Motor City Maps a Path to Urban Recovery - 3/12/14
Candy McCampbell - Engineering News-Record

Detroit is charting a plan to fight the blight that has plagued it for years, starting with a highly detailed map of the city itself.

Two companies are mapping the 380,217 parcels that comprise the 139-sq-mile city. For each tract, they note the building's condition and whether it is vacant or occupied; they also take a photo, which is sent to an immediately updated database.



Picking Apart Detroit To Make It Whole Again - 3/9/14
National Public Radio

Images of a fallen city have drawn national attention to Detroit. But the focus now is on how to remake Detroit into the grand city it once was.

Part of the recovery process is repairing the bankrupt city's blight.

There are an estimated 80,000 abandoned buildings scattered throughout Detroit. In February, Kevyn Orr, the state-appointed emergency manager, announced a $500 million project to tear down those structures. Now all kinds of organizations are jockeying for position to win city contracts to do the work. One of those is Reclaim Detroit.


Detroit News.gif

Akers: Smart approach needed to fight Detroit's blight - 3/6/14
Joshua Akers - Detroit News 

Detroit’s mayor and emergency manager are committing real money to a serious issue in the city: Blight. Widespread vacancy and abandonment and its attendant problems have plagued the city of Detroit since the late 1960s. But focusing on residential demolitions is not enough.

If city leaders are serious about addressing issues of vacancy and abandonment they will combine a targeted approach to neighborhood demolition with the pursuit of those who are actively producing blight in the city.


Detroit News.gif

Duggan plans to meet lawmakers on anti-metal theft legislation - 3/5/14
Gary Heinlein - Detroit News Lansing Bureau

Lansing — Detroit Mayor Mike Duggan planned to meet with the House Democratic and Republican caucuses Wednesday to urge passage of anti-metal theft legislation, a spokesman said.

Differing versions of a two-bill package have passed the House and Senate. Lawmakers have taken no action to resolve the impasse since the Senate approved the legislation Dec. 11.



TARP Funds Demolish Homes in Detroit to Lift Prices: Mortgages - 3/4/14
Brian Louis and Jeff Green - Bloomberg Luxury

In Flint, once a thriving auto-industry hub, excavators with long metal arms and shovels have begun tearing down 1,500 dilapidated homes in an attempt to lift the housing market.

The demolitions in this Michigan city of about 100,000 people are part of the stepped up efforts by officials in several Midwestern states to rid their blighted neighborhoods of decayed housing that’s depressing prices. The funding for the excavator work comes from a surprising source -- the Hardest Hit Fund of the Troubled Asset Relief Program, or TARP, created in 2008 to stabilize to the financial system.


WDET 2.png

What the $70+ Million Blight Fight will Really Look Like - 3/3/14
The Craig Fahle Show - Next City

Detroit Mayor Mike Duggan announced during his first State of the City speech last week that the city would utilize $20 million in unspent insurance industry funds to remove blight. 

The governor announced in August of last year that Detroit will get $52 million toward blight removal. 

Executive Director of (MSHDA) Michigan State Housing Development Authority, Scott Woolsey is here to explain what those dollars will look like. 

"Everyone has brought their own funding to the table," says Woolsey. "After Mayor Duggan approves the report, you're going to see a pretty massive effort in terms of demolition." 

He says because of the blight-mapping project, some houses can be deconstructed and parts salvaged as opposed to being demolished.


Next City.jpg

Why Preservationists Are Mapping Detroit’s Historic Layer - 3/3/14
Nancy Scola - Next City

The Motor City Mapping project, Detroit’s sweeping bid to map every one of its land parcels using mobile devices, has been in the news of late, most prominently with a profile by Monica Davey of theNew York Times. That coverage, though, raises a few questions. The project’s stated goal is to help Detroit figure out its blight problem. But how, exactly, will the data fit into the ongoing political and social churn that surrounds blight? One part of the answer could come, it turns out, in the form of another mapping effort.

Preservationists are, in a project they call complementary to Motor City Mapping, creating a map of some of Detroit’s historic buildings. The hope of the Detroit Historic Resource Survey is to spare some of the architecture that give the city its character. Its relationship to Motor City Mapping, according to the survey’s creators, is that of a "preservation overlay."


Deadline Detroit 2.png

Guest Column: ‘I Don't Want My History To Be Erased’ With Detroit Demolitions - 2/28/14
Lauren Hood - Deadline Detroit

On my way home this week from a presentation about deficiencies of the widely accepted future plan of the city, held near the northwest Detroit neighborhood I grew up in, I decided to drive by the old family home. Usually when people talk about the old family home, they’re talking about a time decades earlier. This was my family home until a year ago.

I do this every few weeks since my parents left. I’m kind of just checking on the Pinehurst Street place, in the back of my mind daydreaming that I’ll one day buy it back from the dude who paid half the asking price and now rents it out for less than half of what I pay in Midtown.

I always get a little emotional when driving by, but this time more so than usual.


Freep Logo.jpg

Monumental effort to tear down blight would improve neighborhoods and Detroit's image - 2/23/14
John Gallagher, Patricia Montemurri, and JC Reindl - Detroit Free Press

The city’s proposal to spend more than half-a-billion dollars on blight removal creates a Marshall Plan-style vision that would change the face of Detroit and the fortunes of its residents in just a few years.

Ambitious? Undoubtedly. But without question it would reframe Detroit’s image in the eyes of fans and critics alike.

Just think: So-called “ruin porn” photographers, metal scrappers and other urban vultures would have far fewer structures to prey upon and could be put out of business. Moviemakers would no longer flock to Detroit to film scenes of RoboCop-like post-apocalyptic blight.


Freep Logo.jpg

Orr proposes half-billion dollars for blight removal in his bankruptcy blueprint - 2/21/14
John Gallagher - Detroit Free Press

Detroit emergency manager Kevyn Orr is proposing that the city spend $520.3 million over the course of the next six fiscal years through 2019 to clean up blight within the city.

Specifically, the city would spend $7.3 million in fiscal year 2014, $113 million in fiscal year 2015 and $100 million in each of the Fiscal Years 2016 through 2019.

Among other things, this investment will allow the city to increase the rate of residential demolitions from an average of 114 demolitions per week to an average of between 400 to 450. Orr said the city intends to focus initial efforts around schools and areas identified by the Detroit Works Project and the Detroit Future City project.



Skillman Foundation Funds Innovative Technology Effort to Fight Detroit Blight - 2/19/14
Mike Gallagher - Council of Michigan Foundations

Combine a pinch of social innovation, mix in a spoonful of rehabilitation and toss in a large cup of monetary stimulation and you have a recipe for eliminating blight throughout the Motor City and beyond.

The Detroit area “chefs” who have now put that recipe to work for the city include the Skillman Foundation, Loveland Technologies and Data Driven Detroit.


Michigan Radio.jpg

Look at this interactive map for insight into one of Detroit's biggest problems - 2/19/14
Mark Brush - Michigan Radio

The blighted buildings in Detroit have been a major stumbling block for decades.

How do you start revitalizing a city when so much of it is crumbling?

Current estimates put the number of abandoned buildings at somewhere between 78,000 and 90,000, but that's a guess. Nobody really knows the true number.

For the past several months, several dozen teams from a technology startup called Loveland Technologies have been slowly driving the streets trying to get a handle on this question. The teams have been snapping photos and uploading information about the buildings. They call their technology "blexting" - blending the words "blight" and "texting."



“Blexts” Enable a Quantified Blight Movement in Detroit - 2/19/14
Adrienne Jane Burke - Techonomy

When Dan Gilbert told the Techonomy Detroit audience last September that the wrecking ball was the next step to reviving the Motor City, we quipped that demolition didn’t seem like such a techonomic concept. It turns out technology will even expedite the process of razing some 80,000 dilapidated buildings.

NPR reports this week that an army of “blexters,” enabled by tablet computers and “blight texting” tools, is creating digital maps and a database of every structure across Detroit’s 139 square miles.



Battling Blight: Detroit Maps Entire City To Find Bad Buildings - 2/18/14
Quinn Klinefelter - National Public Radio

Inside one in a series of abandoned homes along a blighted block of Detroit's Brightmoor neighborhood, filmmaker Tom McPhee walks through the remnants of a life — broken furniture, scattered knickknacks and a flooded basement.

"This is fresh water that's coming into the basement here," McPhee points out. "All of that plumbing has been ripped away 'cause someone found a value in it, so they don't care that it's running. This is all over the city."


NY Times.png

Detroit Tries to Get a Clear Picture of Its Blight - 2/17/14
Monica Davey - New York Times

DETROIT — A midnight blue Chevy rolls slowly down a snow-covered street, an emergency strobe light on its roof and a sign on its side that promises this is “official business.” At each house, business, even vacant lot, workers in the car pause to decide whether someone lives there and what shape the place is in before snapping a photo and beaming it to “mission control” miles away.

All over Detroit, scores of these workers — on some days as many as 75 three-person teams — have been wending their way through the streets since December, cataloging on computer tablets one of this bankrupt city’s most devastating ailments: its tens of thousands of abandoned and dilapidated buildings.


Source: Crain's Detroit Business

Source: Crain's Detroit Business

Loveland's passion: Battle blight - 2/16/14
Amy Haimerl - Crain's Detroit Business

Two years ago, Mary Lorene Carter and Jerry Paffendorf were eating ramen and sweating the cost of drinks at PJs Lager House. They were getting by — and funding their company, Loveland Technologies LLC — on Kickstarter campaigns, the occasional microgrant and the generosity of a few small investors.

Their signature website, Why Don't We Own This?, which maps property ownership and tax data, was just blossoming, and they were knocking on doors, trying to persuade anyone who would listen to let them make public data public.


Fast Company.gif

Fast Company Staff - Fast Company Magazine

Loveland Technologies, the company compiling and documenting blight information in Detroit was recognized by the influential and respected tech magazine and website Fast Company as one of “THE WORLD'S TOP 10 MOST INNOVATIVE COMPANIES IN LOCAL” for their Blexting app.

"With its mobile app Blexting (that's blight + texting), the Detroit-based company is powering Motor City Mapping, the first attempt to catalog the condition of every piece of property in the city."



Video shows Motor City Mapping's $1.5 million effort to document Detroit blight - 2/8/14
David Muller - MLive

DETROIT, MI - In December the Motor City Mapping project got underway with the lofty goal of documenting some 380,000 parcels in the city of Detroit.

With paid workers wielding Google Nexus 7 tablets equipped with Loveland Technologies software, the project is the $1.5 million surveying round of the Detroit Blight Removal Task Force’s ultimate goal of having a strategy in place to rid the city of abandoned and dangerous structures. The non-profit Data Driven Detroit is compiling the information. 



Mapping the Motor City - 2/6/14
C. Kelly - Michigan Citizen

DETROIT — Since December, the Detroit Blight Removal Task Force surveyors have photographed nearly every parcel of land in the city, encountering residents who are either “excited” or “suspicious,” says Tanya Lamar-McDonald.

McDonald is a supervisor and one-time surveyor working on an unprecedented effort to catalog all properties in the city of Detroit. Surveyors — Detroit residents from the neighborhoods they are cataloguing — are creating an inventory of every parcel of land in the city, including abandoned and occupied homes, vacant lots, parks, commercial and city-owned property.



'What Does Blight Have To Do With It?'  - 2/5/14
Glenda D. Price - Michigan Chronicle

In my role as one of three co-chairs of the Detroit Blight Removal Task force, I was engaged in an interview with an out of state reporter. As we began the interview, she asked a series of questions designed to identify my role in the community, my educational background, professional experience, and current employment. As I described my position as the president of the Detroit Public Schools Foundation, she asked, “What does blight have to do with it?”

This question made it clear that she, and perhaps many others, have no understanding of the impact of environment on student learning.


Al Jazeera.jpg

Deciding what to bulldoze in Detroit - 2/3/14
Steve Friess - Al Jazeera America

DETROIT — The homes sit side by side and worlds apart on Greenview Avenue. The one on the left has a hole in its roof, no windows or doors, with piles of charred debris strewn across the exposed living room under a film of recent snow. The one on the right has pretty, clean blue siding, a recently installed front awning and a working satellite dish, its walkway freshly shoveled and the driveway occupied by a boat and some recently dug-out cars.

The occupants, who have lived there only since last summer, don’t know how the place next door fell into such disrepair.


Freep Logo.jpg

You tear down the blight in Detroit, but then what? - 1/26/14
John Gallagher - Detroit Free Press

At a recent conference on blight removal at Marygrove College, longtime Detroit activist Maggie DeSantis pressed businessman Dan Gilbert for the economic model that he and others assumed would fill up the city’s vacant land once the Gilbert-led blight removal effort has finished its work.

Gilbert told DeSantis and the other 100 or so people in attendance that removing eyesore buildings and trash would, by itself, create economic opportunities in Detroit’s empty spaces.



Detroit blight removal task force's property survey nearly complete - 1/25/14
Associated Press

DETROIT — Surveys have been completed on about two-thirds of all structures in Detroit as part of a project to eradicate blight in the city.

The Detroit Blight Removal Task Force is on track to complete in February its database of 380,217 structures and vacant parcels.

The project aims to finally put an accurate number on blighted, vacant and deteriorating structures in Detroit, which has been battling the problem for years. Some city blocks have only a few occupied homes. Thousands of lots are empty, filled with trash and overgrown with weeds.


VOA 2.gif

Motor City Mapping Project Takes Aim at Detroit Blight - 1/25/14
Kane Farabaugh - Voice of America

DETROIT, MICHIGAN — Urban and industrial blight as a result of Detroit’s economic decline has changed the look of the so-called Motor City and how it is perceived.  But a new task force charged with revitalizing the city is spearheading an effort to electronically catalog each troubled property.  The Motor City Mapping Project is on the cutting edge of technology and aims to give city planners a complete look at the task of eliminating blight in Detroit.


Detroit News.gif

White House's Detroit adviser says blight removal to ramp up - 1/16/14
David Shepardson - Detroit News

Detroit — The White House’s point person for Detroit said Thursday he expects federally funded blight removal in the city will ramp up in earnest in two months.

“The dollars are starting to flow that we’ve unlocked. We’ve been working very closely with the mayor on making sure that he has capacity within the city to rebuild the city’s administration,” said Don Graves, a White House and Treasury official who is the Obama administration’s representative in Detroit. “I think you’re going to see a lot going on.”



CBS Detroit.jpg

Motor City Mapping Task Force Takes Stock Of Blighted Buildings - 1/14/14
WWJ CBS Detroit

DETROIT (WWJ) - Teams are hard at work across Detroit right now, taking stock of every blighted building in the city.

In the last month, the Detroit Blight Removal Task Force’s “Motor City Mapping” survey teams have surveyed over half of the 380,217 buildings and vacant lots in Detroit.

WWJ’s City Beat Reporter Vickie Thomas went behind the scenes with Sean Jackson for a look at the Motor City Mapping Mission Control in TechTown – the place where every neighborhood is mapped out.



Motor City Mapping Tackles Urban Blight Using Loveland Tech - 1/6/14
Sarah Schmid - Xconomy

A new day seemed to be dawning in Detroit when Quicken Loans founder Dan Gilbert paraphrased 50 Cent and told an audience at Marygrove College that Detroit’s recently announced urban blight task force is “going to get this done or we are going to die trying.”

The bold statement made last month was a welcome change for Detroiters, where urban decay is one of those persistent structural issues—like the thousands of streetlights that don’t work, or the murder rate—that residents have had to endure year after year, mayor after mayor, with seemingly no serious will to find solutions in sight.


WATCH: Glenda Price discusses the Blight Task Force's plans on Flashpoint - 1/5/14

Glenda Price of the Blight Task Force joined Devin Scillian on Flashpoint to discuss the importance of tackling the blight issue in Detroit, and the effect that it will have on the city locally and nationally.


Source: Crain's Detroit Business

139 square miles, 400,000 parcels: Task force gives itself until February to create database of blighted structures in Detroit - 12/18/13
Kirk Pinho - Crain's Detroit Business

Detroit Blight Removal Task Force workers are expected to complete a survey of the city’s entire 139 square miles by the beginning of February so Detroit has accurate data on how many homes and public and private buildings are blighted.

The task force, which will develop a blight removal plan when the survey is complete, is working to create a database with all of the city’s 400,000 parcels using technology from Detroit-based Loveland Technologies Inc.


Freep Logo.jpg

Blight program will protect against accidental demolition of structures - 12/18/13
John Gallagher - Detroit Free Press

In the massive effort to remove all blight from Detroit in short order, multiple protections are in place to prevent the accidental demolition of structures that should be saved, members of the city’s Blight Removal Task Force said Wednesday.

Speaking at a blight removal conference at Marygrove College, businessman Dan Gilbert, one of three cochairs of the task force, said no building will be razed without passing through several screens, including checking with community representatives.


Source: Detroit News

Source: Detroit News

Gilbert: Task force will fix Detroit's blight 'or die trying' - 12/18/13
Louis Aguilar - Detroit News

Detroit — The heads of the new Detroit Blight Task Force are vowing to create an extensive, detailed database of every parcel in the city that will serve as the blueprint to erase all blight, an issue that has defined the city for decades.

“This is going to be a massive undertaking,” said Dan Gilbert, one of the task force co-chairmen, speaking at Marygrove College Wednesday morning. “Let me tell you, either we are going to get this done or we are going to die trying,” Gilbert told a group of 80 to 100 community leaders. The event was part of a day-long event dealing with residential property.


Source: MLive

Source: MLive

Crews mapping every blighted structure in Detroit; Workers, volunteers using Nexus 7 tablets for massive survey - 12/17/13
David Muller - MLive

DETROIT, MI – For the past two mornings, dozens of hired workers and volunteers have met by numbered signs in the halls of Tech Town. There, they are given Google Nexus 7 tablets and, in groups of three, set out to Detroit’s neighborhoods to document every blighted structure and lot.


Freep Logo.jpg

Plan to eliminate blight in Detroit may top $1 billion, task force says - 12/12/13
John Gallagher - Detroit Free Press

Detroit’s latest effort to count the number of blighted buildings and lots gets underway in earnest Monday when 75 teams of surveyors set out to map at least 350,000 parcels in the city.

Known as the Motor City Mapping project, the survey forms a key part of the work of a newly created blight task force headed by three co-chairs: Quicken Loans founder and Chairman Dan Gilbert, former Marygrove College President Glenda Price, and community activist Linda Smith, executive director of U-Snap-Bac.


Detroit News.gif

Blight surveyors to start counting Detroit buildings on Monday - 12/10/13
Louis Aguilar - Detroit News

Detroit — Surveyors who will try to count every single vacant structure in the city will start work Monday, according to representatives for the new Detroit Blight Task Force.

About 75 three-person teams will photograph and document the city's estimated 350,000 properties. The latest estimate is that the city has 78,000 blighted structures, but city officials concede the figure may be outdated.



Source: Detroit Free Press

Source: Detroit Free Press

Orr dreams of a blight-free Detroit within 3 years - 12/3/13
Tom Walsh - Detroit Free Press

Imagine, if you will, the city of Detroit clearing away 78,000 blighted buildings within the next 18-36 months.

Kevyn Orr, Detroit’s emergency manager, is dreaming that dream.

But is that a fantasy? Or is the city, now that Judge Steven Rhodes has declared it eligible to proceed with Chapter 9 bankruptcy, really poised to start making major, visible improvements to the way Detroit looks and delivers services?



WATCH: Glenda Price talks about the Blight Task Force's Efforts on Spotlight on the News - 12/1/13

Blight Removal Task Force team member Glenda Price joined Chuck Stokes on Spotlight on the News to discuss blight and the efforts of the task force. (Source: WXYZ-TV 7) 


Detroit News.gif

Task force to compile database in Detroit blight fight - 11/25/13
Christine Ferretti - Detroit News

Detroit — A new blight task force is starting its fight by developing the most extensive property database of deteriorating or abandoned structures in Detroit’s history.

The effort, coordinated by Data Driven Detroit, is expected this week to begin training survey teams that in December will begin parcel-by-parcel assessments in the city’s “hardest hit” fund areas, says Erica Raleigh, acting director of Data Driven Detroit.


Source: Detroit 2020

Source: Detroit 2020

Cullen Updates Blight Fighting Effort During Detroit Pride Event - 11/21/13
Detroit 2020

Local entrepreneurs and others were on hand for “Detroit Pride,” a panel discussion by the Adcraft Club of Detroit. Detroit 2020′s Dave LewAllen was the host of the event held in Downtown Detroit on Thursday.

The panelists were Matt Cullen, president and CEO, Rock Ventures; Stephen Roginson, founder, Batch Brewing Company; Phil Cooley, founder, Slows Bar BQ; Carmen Garcia, program officer, Wayne State University Office of Alumni Relations and Iain Lanivich, group creative director, interactive, Lowe Campbell Ewald.


Freep Logo.jpg

Quicken Loans founder Dan Gilbert leading fight against Detroit blight - 11/12/13
Tom Walsh - Detroit Free Press 

While Quicken Loans founder Dan Gilbert chose to wow his troops by hosting this year’s corporate retreat outside of Detroit at his splashy new Cincinnati casino, he left no doubt that the revival of the Motor City still tops his priority list.

He told me in an interview here that the newly formed Detroit blight task force, led by him, Glenda Price and Linda Smith, is launching a massive survey effort over the next 12 weeks to a create a public database of Detroit parcels, properties and their conditions.


Source: Model D

Source: Model D

On the Ground: Clearing blight, uncovering assets in Brightmoor - 10/29/13
Matthew Lewis - Model D

Brightmoor stands at the forefront of land use in the city of Detroit, much as it did when it was first developed in the 1920s. In Burton's History of Detroit and Wayne County, Burt Eddy Taylor, the real estate developer who first built homes in the wilderness that would become Brightmoor, is described as a man on the vanguard of real estate practices in Michigan:

Source: Detroit Free Press

Source: Detroit Free Press

When will Detroit blight task force get cracking? – 10/25/13
Tom Walsh - Detroit Free Press

Four weeks have passed since the White House sent a team of federal bigshots to Detroit, promising to speed delivery of $300 million in public and private funds to help eradicate blight, fix buses, upgrade technology and make the struggling city safer.




Fed's blight fighters to get started in Detroit - 10/9/13
Michael Martinez – Detroit News

The blight task force’s inaugural meeting likely will be organizational, as the three members decide how frequently to meet, whether meetings should be open to the public and what should be done about the thousands of abandoned commercial and residential buildings throughout the city’s 139 square miles.


NeighborhoodsDays 056.jpg

Detroit blight task force gets going with first meeting - 10/9/13
 John Gallagher - Detroit Free Press

A new task force overseeing the spending of tens of millions of dollars to remove blight in Detroit met Wednesday for the first time. 


Time_Magazine_Logo 6.png

Beyond the Blight: Detroit Ponders a Future for Its Abandoned Blocks - 9/30/13
Michelle Maynard - Time

Just after Labor Day, bulldozers arrived on the near east side of Detroit to take down what remains of the Brewster-Douglass Housing Projects. They were a landmark of urban renewal, dedicated by Eleanor Roosevelt in 1935, and home to Diana Ross and the Supremes. But the projects had been empty for years, serving as a ghostly reminder of how much the city has emptied out. 



Source: Detroit Free Press

Source: Detroit Free Press

$300M federal, private boost for Detroit: 'We are going to do everything we are capable of' - 9/27/13
Matt Helms and Todd Spangler - Detroit Free Press

Top Obama administration officials and local leaders unveiled a strategy to bring $300 million in federal and private-sector help to Detroit today to fight blight, improve the city’s struggling bus system, boost public safety and encourage business growth in a city fighting for survival in bankruptcy court.