Here’s some surprising news that you don’t hear often coming out of Detriot.
Looks like someone with a lot of money is looking to renew and revamp the struggling city of Detriot. We couldn’t be any happier for the positive turn of events this could bring to the once prosperous U.S. city.
The name sounds catchy, even cute: the “blight bundle.” Its contents, however, are far less appealing: 6,350 properties — mostly abandoned homes in disrepair and overgrown vacant lots — peppered across the city of Detroit.
No one was really expected to buy the so-called Detroit blight bundle when it entered the Wayne County tax foreclosure auction earlier this month. But someone did.
A group of developers led by Herb Strather put in a $3,183,500 bid — just over the required minimum — for the 6,000-plus properties and won the lot as the only bidders when the auction closed Tuesday afternoon.
“We were rather shocked [by the sale of the bundle],” Strather told The Huffington Post. “We turned on a dime, if you will, and decided to be the bidder, because we were concerned. We wanted to make sure the redevelopment of Detroit was in Detroiters’ hands.”
Strather said he has about two dozen students who will be working on the properties.
“They’re going to add a lot of great value to the development project by doing a lot of sweat equity,” he said.
The sale of the Detroit properties is not final yet. Winners in the county tax auction must pay 10 percent of the total price the day after winning, and the total is due within 14 days.
Strather and his partners have more requirements to meet: Within six months, they must demolish all the blighted properties and have development agreements with the county for any deemed salvageable. If they fail to meet that timeline, ownership for all the properties could revert to the county.
As one of the creators of data transparency projects that map Detroit’s blight and provide easy access to information on the foreclosure auction, Loveland Technologies CEO Jerry Paffendorf has a sense of the scale of Strather’s project.
“It’s just impossible,” Paffendorf said bluntly.
“This process will speed the demolition of properties that continue to be a cancer in Detroit neighborhoods,” Mayor Mike Duggan and Wayne County Treasurer Raymond Wojtowicz said in a statement when they announced the blight bundle.
“Now what we have to do is find out if indeed this group is serious about taking on such a task. And if they’re willing to do so, we’re willing to listen,” Wayne County Chief Deputy Treasurer David Szymanski said.
In the next two weeks, the county will be working closely with the developers to attempt to come up with a plan that satisfies all parties, Szymanski said.
Strather, however, seemed beyond enthusiastic about the challenge that lies ahead.
“I think I was born to do it,” he said. “The idea of redevelopment in my community would be a work of love.”
“With 6,300 properties, we’ll probably give them a few extra days,” Szymanski said dryly.
See several more of the homes included in the blight bundle below, and explore all the properties here.