Speed Reads

Motor City

It will cost almost $2 billion to rid Detroit of urban blight

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Detroit has plans to raise and spend about $450 million to tear down blighted buildings — houses and other structures that are structurally unsound, damaged, or being used as trash-dumping ground. A new report released Tuesday says that Detroit will have to spend almost double that to rid itself of blight, and quickly, before it drags down more neighborhoods and the once-great, now-bankrupt Motor City.

The Detroit Blight Removal Task Force, convened by President Obama last fall, based its report on a massive, detailed survey of Detroit's 377,000 parcels of land, concluding that the city should quickly demolish about 40,000 of them and consider scrapping or restoring more than 30,000 more. That will cost up to $850 million, the report estimates, and it will cost up to $1 billion more to save or dismantle the city's almost 600 giant factories.

"Blight sucks the soul out of anyone who gets near it," task force leader Dan Gilbert told The New York Times on Tuesday. Even if Detroit secures the funding to rid itself of the blight, though, the 300-page report [PDF] offers no guidance on what to do with the empty lots that replace it, not to mention the thousands already spread across Detroit. The New York Times has a map laying out the empty lots and blighted properties, and a video of what blight looks like on one Detroit street.