Mayor Bing And Bill Pulte Unveil Pilot Site For Detroit Blight Authority
By: Mark Winter
Ten-Block Site Near Eastern Market Cleared for Student Safety, Community Revitalization
DETROIT, February 14, 2013 – Detroit Mayor Dave Bing and Bill Pulte, Chairman of the Detroit Blight Authority and CEO of Pulte Capital Partners, unveiled their plans today for a public-private partnership that will become the cornerstone of the Mayor’s next phase of blight removal for the City of Detroit. The pilot site of the newly formed authority is a recently cleared 10-block area at the corner of St. Aubin and Wilkins Street, near Detroit’s Eastern Market.
“For many years, children from this neighborhood have had to walk by blocks of boarded-up homes and piles of brush and dangerous debris to get to Detroit Edison Public School Academy,” Mayor Bing said. “Today, thanks to Bill Pulte, the Detroit Blight Authority and our committed partners, this area is much safer for our children and the land has become an asset for this community and the entire city.”
The Detroit Blight Authority is a private, non-profit organization founded by Bill Pulte to provide a new model for blight elimination in the City of Detroit. “The Blight Authority has been working with the Mayor’s Office for several months on a game-changing blight elimination strategy where, unlike efforts to-date, both debris-ridden lots as well as abandoned structures are removed,” Pulte said. “This model carries out blight elimination at nearly half the cost and recycles over 80 percent of the material. Our goal is revitalizing communities block-by-block.”
Mayor Bing has pledged to demolish at least 10,000 structures during his four-year term. To date, the Bing Administration has demolished more than 6,600 houses, and is on target to meet the Mayor’s goal by year-end.
The east-side pilot site for the Detroit Blight Authority was cleared in just 10 days, at an unprecedentedly low cost and with high efficiency. “We were able to tear down homes for less than $5,000 each,” said Lt. Col. James Henderson, CEO of the Detroit Blight Authority. “That’s almost half of the approximately $9,500 per home cost of publically funded efforts,” said Henderson, who is a retired U.S. Army veteran of Operations Desert Shield, Desert Storm and Iraqi Freedom, and has more than 20 years of experience with large-scale logistics and disaster recovery initiatives.
Division of labor coupled with competition among contractors and other operational efficiencies can reduce costs in an unprecedented way, according to Pulte. “We are leveraging our experience and relationships to fully realize those efficiencies.”
The Detroit Blight Authority is aggressively pursuing additional public and private funding in an effort to expand this blight removal model throughout the City of Detroit. The organization is working with Mayor Bing, the State of Michigan, as well as local foundations and the Southeast Michigan business community. Support for this initiative has come from several Detroit stakeholders, including the Kresge Foundation, DTE Energy, PwC, Michigan Caterpillar, Luke’s Services, MCM Demolition and Honigman Miller Schwartz and Cohn.
Pulte is the grandson of William Pulte, the founder of Pulte Homes. William Pulte built his first home in 1950 in Detroit at the age of 18 and built his company into America’s largest homebuilder. In creating the plan, Bill Pulte worked with his grandfather, and the two devised a plan to attack blight based on Pulte Homes’ proven and time-tested process for large-scale land clearing. “We knew that we had to look at the problem differently and broadly if it was going to be done with any effectiveness,” Bill Pulte said. “We tried to convince the necessary stakeholders of that, and as you can see from the pilot, Mayor Dave Bing has been a great partner in adopting and creating this new model.”
To view aerial photos of the area before and after, please click below.