The name "Pulte" and houses have been connected in Michigan for over six decades -- the building of houses, that is. But family scion Bill Pulte, 25, is going the other way. His Detroit Blight Authority is tearing down urban ruin. Emergency manager Kevyn Orr called for action on blight in his City of Detroit Proposal for Creditors released Friday. Crain's Detroit Business says Pulte is eyeing federal grant money to fund his nonprofit. He's getting help from Quicken Loans mogul Dan Gilbert.
Just how big is Detroit's blight problem? The EM report says some 78,000 abandoned and ruined structures exist in the city. Almost half are deemed dangerous. There are 66,000 blighted and vacant lots in city limits. There are 70 identified superfund sites. These are areas with uncontrolled hazardous or toxic waste that the Environmental Protection Agency identifies as needing cleaning. EPA Cleanups in My Community lists hazardous sites.
Detroit Blight Authority
Pulte has a five-step plan to eradicate Detroit blight. He told Crain's Detroit Business it could cost $500 million to $1.5 billion. In February, the group cleared over 200 lots in 10 blocks downtown around Eastern Market. Pulte has a second pilot area planned. He'll reveal the location at the end of the month. He promises to raze about 400 homes.
MSHDA $100M Demolition Grant
The U.S. Department of Treasury recently approved a Michigan State Housing Development Authority request to use up to $100 million to demolish 4,000 homes using unspent Hardest Hit Fund monies, says the Detroit Free Press. That fund was set up in 2010 to prevent foreclosure. Funding will be spent in Detroit, Pontiac, Flint, Grand Rapids, and Saginaw. Detroit Mayor Dave Bing has vowed to get 10,000 homes cleared in Detroit and hopes to get a good share of the blight funds. Pulte is hoping to get some of that money for his demolition. He was able to raze homes for about $5,000 each, half of what it costs the city and only a fraction of the Housing Development Authority's $25,000-per-home estimate. At Pulte's cost, significantly more area could be cleared.
Gilbert and Pulte
PulteGroup announced the end of May that it was pulling up Bloomfield Hills, Michigan, stakes, taking 300 jobs and moving to Atlanta. Many locals, including Gilbert, had harsh words for the company, says C & G News. The Pultes had pulled out of the company in 2010 when founding Pulte passed away. They expressed surprise over the move. But Gilbert offered to come alongside the Pulte demolitions effort, offering the nonprofit use of office space downtown, says Crain's Detroit Business.
I talked to Detroit social activist Rev. David Alexander Bullock about the city-wide razing of vacant properties. He expressed concern over the limited scope. "Demolition is seen as a silver bullet, but it should be part of a larger plan to rebuild."
An educator and Michigan native, Marilisa Sachteleben writes about issues in her home state's most pivotal city of Detroit.