Wednesday, March 10, 2010

Detroit consolidation update.

Last week's story of the City of Detroit being "downsized" has been updated in The Washington Times:

Operating on a scale never before attempted in this country, the city would demolish houses in some of the most desolate sections of Detroit and move residents into stronger neighborhoods. Roughly a quarter of the 139-square-mile city could go from urban to semi-rural.

Near downtown, fruit trees and vegetable farms would replace neighborhoods that are an eerie landscape of empty buildings and vacant lots. Suburban commuters heading into the city center might pass through what looks like the countryside to get there. Surviving neighborhoods in the birthplace of the auto industry would become pockets in expanses of green.

This ongoing story is worth watching by everyone in the Eastern United States for the following reasons:
  • Detroit's deterioration has advanced beyond that of other cities (including Pennsylvania cities) only by a matter of degree.
  • City planners are going to make a serious attempt to implement this plan, but the result will not be picturesque farms where once stood blight.
  • At some point this decade, Detroit will be mired in lawsuits related to eminent domain and the validity of disputed title claims (as well as protests, demonstrations and civil unrest resulting from forced relocations).
  • It is likely that clouded title resulting from a history of tax sales has created uncertainty as to the true ownership of so much Detroit real estate (sound familiar?) and worsened the blight that this proposal is attempting to remedy.

Wherever blight and depopulation exists on a large scale, forced relocation, consolidation (and resulting litigation) will become an option for city planners.

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