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Mayor wants to take blighted buildings through nuisance abatement program

The Detroit Downtown Partnership held its first stakeholder meeting of the year Feb. 5, touching on a range of development topics. It featured the first ever public forum between Detroit Mayor Mike Duggan and emergency manager Kevyn Orr.

  • The DDP is pushing for a Business Improvement Zone (BIZ) that would provide long-term funding to the Clean Downtown beautification program. The proposed BIZ would also fund downtown landscaping programs, safety and hospitality programs, and marketing initiatives. Funding is raised through an assessment formula that combines assessed value and built floor area metrics. DDP CEO David Blaszkiewicz expects City Council and Orr to approve the request for BIZ formation, leaving a property owner vote as the last step. Passing the BIZ requires at least 60 percent of voting downtown property owners' approval.
  • Duggan credits the professionalism of Orr and the new City Council in the election of a new lighting authority, one that will install LED lights throughout the city. The mayor also mentioned that he, the city council, the emergency manager, and the governor were able to consolidate nine separate land banks and blight task forces into one agency.
  • Currently stuck in the Michigan legislature, a bill would require all scrapyards pay by check mailed three days after a transaction.
  • Duggan advocated for restoring vacant buildings when possible, rather than demolishing them. He also hinted at a nuisance abatement program akin to the one he instituted during his days as Wayne County Prosecutor, saying, "We're gonna go through and take title to all three (blighted) houses (on a block) at once by suing on a nuisance abatement, saying to the owners, you have to maintain your property so it's not a nuisance to your neighbors. Either sign the court order to fix it up yourself or we'll take it and sell it on the Internet."
Source: Detroit Downtown Partnership stakeholders meeting, Feb. 5, 2014

Writer: MJ Galbraith

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