Hamtramck puts lawsuit behind it, moves toward more development

Development of all kinds in Hamtramck is about to take a few major steps forward now that the city is close to putting a federal housing lawsuit behind it.

Hamtramck is at the tail end of putting the nation’s longest-standing housing discrimination court case behind it. The city is partnering with the Michigan State Housing Development Authority to build or rehab 200 homes, leveraging federal Neighborhood Stabilization Funds.

So far 130 homes (both for sale and rentals) have been finished and the rest are on schedule to be done by the end of 2013. The city and its partners (Wayne County, Michigan Association of REALTORS, Michigan Home Builders Association and Huntington Bank) are launching $50 million construction program plans to build or rehab 100 homes in that time.

Hitting those goals will clear the way to lifting the court-ordered ban on the city for selling municipally-owned land. Hamtramck has about 500-600 vacant city-owned residential lots that will soon become available for sale and additional new home construction when that happens.

"Being able to sell those lots is a fantastic opportunity for us to plan what can happen in this city," says Susie Stec, community & economic development coordinator for the city of Hamtramck.

Traditional development (both commercial and residential) is an obvious candidate to take off in Hamtramck. However, urban agriculture is another avenue that could benefit from the ban's lifting. While plans for large-scale, commercial urban agriculture have stalled in recent years, smaller community gardens in side lots have flourished.

Hamtramck's bevy of potentially available lots could be a boon for that sort of community garden agriculture. Stec sees concentrations of vacant lots in the city, such as the area on the south side of the city between Holbrook and Denton.

"There is a lot of interest in urban gardening, and doing more intensive types of agriculture," Stec says.

Source: Susie Stec, community & economic development coordinator for the city of Hamtramck
Writer: Jon Zemke

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