Reprinted from www.freep.com
In Detroit, many residents live and shop near hulking vacant buildings that have been abandoned for years, places that attract crime, vagrants, graffiti and scrappers.
Many of these blighted buildings line well-traveled corridors throughout Detroit’s neighborhoods. But exactly who owns them and why they remain in terrible condition for so long remains a mystery to many.
Standing on her porch on East Outer Drive among a stretch of homes with well-manicured lawns and hedges, Tomika Brown, 41, described the multitude of problems associated with a giant, crumbling building across the street. The building is so rundown its hard to tell how it was originally used.
“It just be a lot of drunks stopping in there, scrapping,” Brown said. “I want to tell (the owner), ‘tear it down; do something with it.’ It’s an eyesore.”
Covered in graffiti, the building has all the classic signs of urban blight. There is practically no fencing around the perimeter, leaving it open to trespass. Brown said the grass had not been cut for about three months. The Free Press contacted the property owner’s lawyer. It was finally mowed sometime on or after Oct. 5, Brown said.
The indistinguishable structure at 3040 E. Outer Drive is among a handful of vacant commercial buildings throughout the city the Free Press examined in an attempt to shed some light on the properties’ prolonged abandonment and the monumental task the city is facing it having owners take responsibility for them.
The analysis underscored the complexity of the city’s commercial blight problem. While much attention has been given to getting rid of city-owned blighted residential structures, including the rising cost under Mayor Mike Duggan’s administration for demolition, little attention has been given to blighted commercial properties, whose ownership ranges from out-of-town speculators to the city itself.
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