As Detroit’s problems continue to grow each year, the task of finding solutions to those problems seems more and more daunting — perhaps even impossible. There are no easy solutions to these problems, but a new project to demolish blighted property and rezone the city seems particularly promising. At his State of the City address on Tuesday, Detroit Mayor Dave Bing announced a plan to demolish 3,000 of the city’s dilapidated and abandoned buildings by the end of the year. The plan would benefit Detroit’s economy and solidify the city’s communities, and it should be enacted with the full support of the city and federal governments.

During his annual State of the City address last week, Bing stated that the city plans to demolish 10,000 buildings by 2014. The current plan is being funded by federal stimulus dollars. Additionally, the administration is scheduled to release a map on Apr. 1 that will identify the addresses of the buildings that will be demolished. Bing has also met with President Barack Obama in an effort to secure more money and to bring him to Detroit to bring public attention to the city’s problems.

Detroit’s problems are varied — political corruption, city debt and a school district in crisis — and a new urban plan isn’t going to solve all of them. But it’s obvious that the city needs to get rid of the blight. Much of Detroit’s vacant land is city-owned and these investments aren’t seeing any return for the city. With increasing unemployment, migration out of the city and a tight budget, the city can’t afford to continue to fund vacant lots.

The plan would have a wealth of positive effects for the city. Abandoned buildings drive down property values of neighboring land. Removal of these properties would pave the way for redevelopment of unused land, which would greatly benefit Detroit’s economy. And rezoning the city into denser communities would allow the city to distribute its funds more effectively.

So it’s encouraging that the funding for the demolition project has come from the federal stimulus. Michigan has been hit especially hard by the recession and Detroit has seen the worst of the devastation — it’s a prime candidate for stimulus funds. Since the city’s finances are already a mess, the federal funds are essential to getting the project underway. And if the project is successful, hopefully it will encourage further federal support in the future.

Detroit should be a top concern for the federal government. A White House official has indicated that Obama would like to make a visit to Detroit, but that nothing has yet been scheduled. If the president visited and supported the demolition plans, it could bring necessary awareness to the city’s condition. He should arrange a trip to the city as soon as possible.

Removing the blight from Detroit could be the first step in revitalizing the city by redistributing city spending more wisely and encouraging the growth of new businesses. The city should implement the plan quickly and the federal government should give Detroit the aid it needs.

Leave a comment

Your email address will not be published.