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  1. #1
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    Dec 2010
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    Default 60 Minutes Piece on Cleveland Ohio Razing of Homes

    Did anyone else see the 60 Minutes piece where Cleveland Ohio is tearing down homes in neighborhoods and giving the lots to neighbors with homes not in foreclosure?

    I found one point interesting. I used to work for Wells Fargo Home Mortgage and we had an REO (Real Estate Owned) website.

    The 60 Minutes piece stated that the mortgage companies are not buying these Cleveland homes for tax sales prices. They don't even want them and are not maintaining them for resale. (No duh, I know) Hence, the razing of the homes.

    4-5 years ago while at WF I searched our database www.reopas.com for homes in Detroit and the list stretched to 18 pages! So while watching this 60 Minutes show I checked the website in real time and there were 2 pages and about 15 homes.

    15 homes! Wow. 4 years ago = maybe 2000 homes just with Wells Fargo. This means WF has DUMPED all this property previously worth hundreds of millions of dollars, lost tax revenue. I guess these lots and abandoned homes now belong to the city of Detroit.

    Tearing some of them down seems an IDEAL solution in some mcases. Who doesn't want a double lot? In a normal city/metro situation it is crowded by it's very definition. I live in a small town in Iowa partially for that reason - small town, big lots, trees, gardens etc.

    Seems like a GREAT idea Cleveland has, to give lots to neighbors. No more crack house, better sight lines and openness and gardens. I think most people agree Detroit is not going back to the 1950's Detroit, so make a new city.

    Bad part for me was I saw a LOT of cool Tudors and Bungalows, and Traditionals in the old days of the REO website and I sure wanted to buy a home. Now, those days are gone....
    Last edited by Roadmaster49; December-20-11 at 04:16 PM.

  2. #2
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    I saw the show. Detroit was tearing down close to 4000 houses a year since shortly after Kwame took over as Mayor. It costs about $4,000 to tear down and correctly clean up a vacant house site, In Detroit there are so many housing units going vacant the city has no hope of keeping up.

    Detroit lost almost 300,000 people in the last 10 years, If you figure 2.5 people per housing unit, That's around 12,000 units a year that need to be demolished. At $4000 per demo It's going to cost you $48Million a year to keep up.

  3. #3
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    Having a double lot has been desirable in Detroit as long as I can remember. When I first read of 'blots' I though it was a perfect fit for the times. Starts the ball rolling nicely.

  4. #4
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    I saw the show too and thought it was very interesting. I'm not familiar with cleveland but many of the neighborhoods shown seemed to be manicured and in fairly good shape. Also not much neglect and as compared to Detroit. Maybe they showed the better areas.

    The sad thing is, it appears people are not moving back to Cleveland at an alarming rate either.

  5. #5
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    Quote Originally Posted by illwill View Post
    I saw the show too and thought it was very interesting. I'm not familiar with cleveland but many of the neighborhoods shown seemed to be manicured and in fairly good shape. Also not much neglect and as compared to Detroit. Maybe they showed the better areas.

    The sad thing is, it appears people are not moving back to Cleveland at an alarming rate either.
    Cleveland is culturally and economically very similar to Detroit, and has suffered a lot of the same consequences over time. The area has continued to sprawl ever-outward for decades, with negligible population growth. The East Side neighborhoods have been devastated due to outmigration.

    There are pockets, however, especially on the near West Side, where neighborhoods have begun to gentrify in the past 20 years or so. There's still a long way to go, and I'm not sure demolition of the housing stock is the final answer.

  6. #6
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    Quote Originally Posted by ghettopalmetto View Post
    ...There's still a long way to go, and I'm not sure demolition of the housing stock is the final answer.
    Here, someone has to take a pragmatic look at what constitutes housing stock. A lot of it can never be cost justified to make safe, let alone comfortable. The housing stock, and neighborhoods for that matter, faired much better when there were more multi family and semi detached options.

  7. #7
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    Quote Originally Posted by GoGrixdale View Post
    Here, someone has to take a pragmatic look at what constitutes housing stock. A lot of it can never be cost justified to make safe, let alone comfortable. The housing stock, and neighborhoods for that matter, faired much better when there were more multi family and semi detached options.
    But at the same time, "vacant" doesn't mean "structurally unsound" or "unsafe". Unless you're George Jackson.

  8. #8
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    $4000 to demo a house is low. I had a large brick house on East Grand Blvd demo'd a couple years ago and it cost about $11,000.
    I think the city is first trying to tear down houses in close proximity to occupied houses before taking on blocks of abandoned houses with nobody around to complain.


    Quote Originally Posted by ndavies View Post
    I saw the show. Detroit was tearing down close to 4000 houses a year since shortly after Kwame took over as Mayor. It costs about $4,000 to tear down and correctly clean up a vacant house site, In Detroit there are so many housing units going vacant the city has no hope of keeping up.

    Detroit lost almost 300,000 people in the last 10 years, If you figure 2.5 people per housing unit, That's around 12,000 units a year that need to be demolished. At $4000 per demo It's going to cost you $48Million a year to keep up.

  9. #9
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    Beyond unsound is undesirable. Most issues that cause unsound are a result of apartment people somewhat forced to live in single family homes. I think it also fosters more crime.

  10. #10
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    Quote Originally Posted by GoGrixdale View Post
    Beyond unsound is undesirable. Most issues that cause unsound are a result of apartment people somewhat forced to live in single family homes. I think it also fosters more crime.
    Lost me on that one?

  11. #11
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    Quote Originally Posted by brandon48202 View Post
    ...I think the city is first trying to tear down houses in close proximity to occupied houses before taking on blocks of abandoned houses with nobody around to complain.

    Makes perfect sense. I really would like to believe there is that much foresight. Sadly, I think that it's more sitting on money until it gets to be a big enough pile to do something magical with. Plans are made and dreams are sold, the money sits and sits and sits until [Poof].

  12. #12
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    Quote Originally Posted by old guy View Post
    Lost me on that one?
    A big part in the decline in quality of housing stock is partly a result of people who dont want or care about home maintenance. Although most of the blame lays on the landlord, that doesn't help renters.

    The rental options for families making $20K - $40K are slim. Starter homes and neighborhoods were once reserved for those at least wanting to be homeowners. Now they hold the perpetual renters and are held by landlords who wont or cant make repairs.

    As far as the crime, There are a lot more nooks and crannys in house centric neighborhoods.

  13. #13
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    Quote Originally Posted by ndavies View Post
    I saw the show. Detroit was tearing down close to 4000 houses a year since shortly after Kwame took over as Mayor. It costs about $4,000 to tear down and correctly clean up a vacant house site, In Detroit there are so many housing units going vacant the city has no hope of keeping up.

    Detroit lost almost 300,000 people in the last 10 years, If you figure 2.5 people per housing unit, That's around 12,000 units a year that need to be demolished. At $4000 per demo It's going to cost you $48Million a year to keep up.

    Just a correction. The Detroit News reported back in November of last year that the five previous years only saw about 5,000 home demolitions total. Both Archer and Kilpatrick had huge goals, and it even got up to the point where thousands upon thousands of permits were actually issues, but the city never had the money to keep up with the goals. In another story by the New's Laura Berman, last year, that since 1999, the city had knocked down 12,640 homes, the vasty majority during Archer's administrations. The city was averaging 500 to 700 demolitions a year during Kilpatrick's administration. The number actually only takes in city demolitions, which leaves demolitions for other entities like Blight Busters, private demolitions, county demolitions, etc...

    One more slight correction. You rounded up way too high the number of people Detroit lost over the decade. It wasn't even 250,000 let alone rounding it up to 300,000.
    Last edited by Dexlin; December-21-11 at 06:32 AM.

  14. #14
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    So WHO owns the now vacant lots in Detroit? Can a homeowner next to one buy it from the city for a fair price or are they just sitting there empty and owned by the city with no plan for sale?

  15. #15
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    I don't know how the city does it but does Detroit bid out the demolition work to companies? I am not all too familiar with construction and demolition but with all the work that needs to be done in the city would it be more cost effective to purchase the needed equipment to perform the demolitions and hire laid off and out of work construction workers and pay them a fair wage to perform the work for the city?

    Thoughts? Ideas? Corrections?

  16. #16
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    For those of you with a couple of hours to kill you can check this out:
    http://www.planning.org/aicp/symposium/

    If you don't have a couple of hours, you can just flip through the .pdf.
    http://www.planning.org/aicp/symposi...gcleveland.pdf

  17. #17
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    Quote Originally Posted by sycloneman View Post
    I don't know how the city does it but does Detroit bid out the demolition work to companies? I am not all too familiar with construction and demolition but with all the work that needs to be done in the city would it be more cost effective to purchase the needed equipment to perform the demolitions and hire laid off and out of work construction workers and pay them a fair wage to perform the work for the city?

    Thoughts? Ideas? Corrections?
    My thoughts exactly!

    All they need to do is spend a few hundred thousand dollars on bull dozers and demolition equipment, and put together a small crew that all they do is demolitions.

    The biggest cost is getting the dumpsters to haul away the debries, and then getting fill dirt to fill in basements.

    If the city was really strapped for cash, why not just tear down the house and leave all the debries in what was once the basement? No dumpster, and you just need a small amount of fill dirt to cover up the hole?

    Sure its not the best thing to do, but I would rather have a vacant lot with basement used as a landfill, than have a house that is a burned out shell.

    They need to tear down the houses, they can always come back later and dig it out if necessary.

  18. #18
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    Quote Originally Posted by CLAUDE G View Post
    My thoughts exactly!

    All they need to do is spend a few hundred thousand dollars on bull dozers and demolition equipment, and put together a small crew that all they do is demolitions.

    The biggest cost is getting the dumpsters to haul away the debries, and then getting fill dirt to fill in basements.

    If the city was really strapped for cash, why not just tear down the house and leave all the debries in what was once the basement? No dumpster, and you just need a small amount of fill dirt to cover up the hole?

    Sure its not the best thing to do, but I would rather have a vacant lot with basement used as a landfill, than have a house that is a burned out shell.

    They need to tear down the houses, they can always come back later and dig it out if necessary.
    You can't leave the remains of a building in it's basement. This is just as dangerous as leaving the building standing. Old houses are enviromental disasters. They are filled with lead paint, Asbetos and Mercury contamination. If you leave the remains of the house there, you have a lot that can't be used without enviromental remediation. It's much easier to clean it up when you tear it down than to bury it and have to dig it all back up later.

    The last thing I would want to do is create more government bueraucracy. It's going to be far cheaper to just contract out the work than creating a whole new city department. Tearing down houses should not be and never should become a Core city service.

  19. #19
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    Here are some facts in response to the comments:

    The City pays for demolition by the square foot, with asbestos abatement included it is about $5.00 per s.f. Water shut off is $550 and DTE charges $720 to shut off the gas. An average 1500 square foot bungalow costs about $8500 to demo.

    The work is bid out to contractors and not performed in-house. Years ago, the City maintained its own equipment and crews but it was impractical for many reasons. Liability being one and another that the federal funds used for demolition are not fixed (just depends on what's available) so it would be foolhardy to maintain employees and equipment when you don't know how much money you have to spend.

    The current administration stepped up the demolitions because of stimulus money. For the past ten years, the City only spent about $3 mil annually on demolition, but the stimulus in 2009 provided almost $30 million.

    Although it used to be common practice in Detroit, it is a violation of the state building code to leave the basement in the ground, as well as to dump the debris in the hole. The buildings often contain contaminated building materials, and leaving the stuff in creates an obstacle for future development. For example, the developers of the old Redford Meijer had or have to remove a significant number of basements from the site that were left there by demolitions long ago. This is expensive and a disincentive. Developers want clean sites.

    The banks have abandoned thousands of what they consider "no value" homes and the saddest part is they often don't complete the foreclosure because it is not worth the cost. So they start foreclosure, get the owner out and then walk away and discharge the mortgage so they have no responsibility for the house. The poor owner who lost the house could actually go back and reclaim it but most people don't know this.

    Although the City has the authority to abate the nuisance by tearing down the house without owning it, this act does not transfer title. The properties that have been abandoned (by banks or whomever) will eventually come into public ownership when foreclosed for taxes by the county, and then may eventually pass to the City, which has the right of first refusal at auction time. I think last year the City took about 6000 foreclosed properties.

    Right now the city owns at least 12-15000 vacant homes and 65,000 vacant lots. They should be offering the vacant lots next to occupied homes to those owners and they also should be taking advantage of the "Repair to Own" ordinance to unload all the vacant homes to anyone who is willing to take one. Only God knows why this is not happening....

  20. #20
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    Dec 2011
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    Ms. Perkins:

    Would you please PM me on this Repair to Own ordinance? Thank you.

  21. #21
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    May 2011
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    It's chapter 14 Detroit City Code and you can find it and all city ordinances at www.municode.com


    http://library.municode.com/mobile/d...49%26docID%3d3

  22. #22
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    Thank you!

  23. #23
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    Thanks everyone. Was courious.

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