John Metcalfe is CityLab’s Bay Area bureau chief, based in Oakland. His coverage focuses on climate change and the science of cities.
The city released this map amid talk that there’s something fishy about its demolition program.
How far has Detroit come in rooting out its legion of empty, decaying properties? For a quick answer check the new Detroit Demolition Tracker, which shows thousands of tear-downs completed and hundreds more looming on the books.
The interactive, regularly updated map plots more than 9,500 demolitions since 2014 as blue dots, and about 700 scheduled jobs as orange dots. Click on them to reveal details like the date of leveling, the price of demolition, and the contractor that performed it. “In the past two years, Detroit has taken down 9,524 vacant buildings in neighborhoods across the city,” the city claims. “If we keep this pace, we can remove 40,000 blighted structures in about eight years, instead of the 30 years it would have taken us at our previous rate.”
The Detroit Free Press reports the city released this tracker for its demolition push—the “largest blight removal program of its kind in the nation”—to try to assure people everything’s on the level. Here’s more:
The announcement of the Demolition Tracker app, which the city described as a bid toward more transparency, came amid revelations that the city had for years awarded demolition contracts for more than $25,000 without getting required approval from the City Council.
Detroit’s demolition program is under federal scrutiny over rising costs and questionable bidding practices. The Office of the Special Investigator for the Troubled Asset Relief Program, the federal bailout program created by the Obama administration. The FBI is assisting the investigation.