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Hamtramck partners with Reclaim Detroit on home deconstruction

Hamtramck is taking a lead role on Metro Detroit's fledgling home deconstruction industry. The inner-city suburb commissioned one of the first deconstructions last year from Reclaim Detroit and now has six more in the offing. The city is also applying to have another 40 homes deconstructed through the Michigan Land Bank.

Home deconstruction is an alternative to demolition for buildings beyond repair and renovation. When a building is razed, it only takes the efforts of a handful of unskilled workers and all of the byproducts goes to a landfill. Deconstructing a building creates more jobs (about 10-12 for a single-family home) and ensures that a vast majority of the building's materials are recycled.

"That's something we have been pursuing for a while," says Jason Friedmann, community & economic development director for the city of Hamtramck. "It helps keep the valuable materials out of a landfill. Some of these materials can't be found anymore, no matter what the price, like the old-growth lumber."

A house on Carpenter Street was one of the first to be deconstructed by Reclaim Detroit. That project created 18 jobs and the materials from it generated $40,000. Some of those materials ended up in places like the Great Lakes Coffee Roasting Co cafe in Midtown.

The 40 homes in line for deconstruction next year are a combination of leftovers from last fall's Wayne County Tax Foreclosure Auction, city-owned houses beyond repair and privately owned homes that are either condemned or fire-damaged and have no insurance. Friedmann hopes to leverage the current six deconstructions set to happen this winter and 40 next year to help create more jobs in the city.

"A lot of skills that can be used to take apart a building can be used to put one back together," Friedmann says.

Source: Jason Friedmann, community & economic development director for the city of Hamtramck
Writer: Jon Zemke

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