NPR had another one of those "only in Detroit" stories this week. This one was about the so-called land bank in Detroit. According to NPR, the land bank in the Motor City takes ownership of properties that no one else wants. At present, there is a modest 88,000 properties available. This amounts to a staggering one-quarter of all the property in Detroit. You need to take a moment to let that number take hold in your mind. Try to think of any other place where not only is fully one fourth of all the property abandoned, it is owned by the land bank because absolutely no one else wants it. To their credit, the land bank is trying to find suckers to buy these places. The current plan is to offer discounts to City workers. So far, the land bank has sold 300 parcels. Let's see, 300 into 88,000 means that the last plot will sell sometime around when the sun burns out. Little wonder, too. Even if you bought a house from the land bank for $100.00, you are just getting a headache. You would have to drop tens of thousands of dollars into the place just to make it livable. Then the tax collectors will be knocking on your door (if you have one.) The first time you leave your neighborhood to go grocery shopping in the suburbs (remember, no chain grocery stores anywhere in Detroit), the local vandals are going to go in and steal every last thing you put into your new house.
When you hear stories about Detroit coming back because a hip restaurant opened downtown, keep the land bank in mind. When they get down to around only 50,000 or so abandoned parcels that no one will buy, maybe we can pop the Champagne corks.
NPR Story On Detroit Land Bank
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