Reasons to Come to Detroit


Filed Under Latest News on Jul 16 

The Detroit Land Bank is overwhelmed. There are so many abandoned homes in Detroit, as well as empty lots, that they can’t keep up. What they need is dozens of crews roaming the city and accurately mapping what is left of the worst neighborhoods. But wait. They now have a new weapon that will mobilize concerned citizens and all you need is your smartphone. It’s called blexting, short for blight texting, and it’s an app you can download that allows you to take pictures of derelict properties which you then text to a public database. The city will use the database to decide whether to renovate or demolish the blighted structures. How many blighted structures are there in Detroit? About 85,000 of which about 73,000 are residential buildings.

Will blexting lead Detroit onto the path of recovery? No, but one supposes by encouraging citizens to get involved documenting the sorry state of parts of their city, it is a step forward. It is literally grass roots, a sad but unavoidable pun for a city that now sports what some are calling “urban prairie”. Demolishing derelict structures will lower drug dealing and other criminal activities but what is needed is for business to come back. And the city realizes this. Decades of top down chaotic administration of the city seem to finally have come to an end. Quicken Loans founder Dan Gilbert has bought 3 million square feet of property in the city and has invested about a billion dollars. He has brought his 7,600 employees downtown and has also brought dozens of start ups to the buildings he owns. It is an enormous vote of confidence by a very successful entrepreneur, but what is needed is a critical mass of independent businesses choosing to set up shop in the city for all the right reasons: reasonable tax rates, coherent regulation, reliable services and manageable levels of crime. Let us hope that an increasing number of businesses find good reasons to agree with Dan Gilbert’s optimism.