November 1, 2013
Detroit Future City (DFC) in partnership with 10 other organizations has launched a pilot project in Southwest Detroit’s Springwells Village to evaluate the economic and environmental feasibility of using “partial deconstruction” methods to eliminate blighted and dangerous structures in Detroit.
Partial deconstruction is a term that refers to tearing down portions of a structure that contain materials like wood that can be salvaged and used again – it’s a process that occurs before traditional demolition methods commence.
The goal of the pilot project is to test the obstacles, benchmark productivity and establish metrics for how well partial deconstruction methods could work if implemented on abandoned and blighted homes in Detroit. With the assistance of Wayne State University’s Department of Geology the pilot project is testing the implications of lead dispersal associated with partial deconstruction activities.
The 10 abandoned, stripped and fire damaged residential structures being used for the pilot project were acquired from the Wayne County Tax Foreclosure Auction and are located in the Springwells Village neighborhood.
“Existing deconstruction data examines deconstructing healthy structures, this pilot project will capture Detroit-specific metrics so we will be able to quantify if partial deconstruction practices can become a viable option to remove blight, create jobs and improve the environment,” said Dan Kinkead, Director of the Detroit Future City Implementation Office. “If partial deconstruction proves to be a sustainable practice for reducing blight, we will work with our partners to determine how we can scale-up deconstruction activities across Detroit.”
Springwells Village falls within the 33% of the city that the Strategic Framework identifies as having moderate levels of vacancy – almost half of Detroit residents live in moderate vacancy neighborhoods.
Through the week of December 8, 2013 crews of 5 deconstruction specialists from EcoWorks (formerly WARM Training Center) are performing partial deconstruction methods that include removing the roof, plaster, floor joists, load-baring studs, etc. The remaining parts of each of the homes will be taken down using traditional demolition methods.
Throughout the process Wayne State University’s Department of Geology is testing the air quality around each deconstruction and demolition site using a “High Volume Aerosol Sampling Unit.” They also are monitoring what happens to the soil before and after the structures are removed.
The materials from the deconstructed homes are then processed by EcoWorks, which means the materials are piled on site and to the extent feasible nails are removed prior to transport. Materials are then loaded into the job site vehicle and taken to one of EcoWorks’ warehouses where workers complete the denailing process. The materials are then sold.
Once all 10 structures have been removed, the properties will be made available to the residents living adjacent to or near-by the clear parcel of property for the cost of taxes owed, approximately $3000 per parcel. The results of the piloting initiative will be available the first quarter of 2014.
Erin Kelly, a program manager with NextEnergy, is leading the daily activities of the pilot project for a collaborative that includes: Detroit Future City, EcoWorks, Detroit Economic Growth Corporation, Urban Neighborhood Initiatives, NextEnergy, Wayne State University, LOVELAND Technologies, Bridging Communities Inc., JacobsStreet and The Catholic University of America. The Kresge Foundation is providing funding.
“We have been working together for several months to get this pilot project off the ground and along the way there have been tremendous opportunities for learning,” said Kelly. “When it’s all said and done we will have a better grasp on whether or not partial deconstruction can become a new practice in Detroit’s blight removal toolbox.”
Below are the properties located in the Springwells Village neighborhood that are being used for the pilot project.
The Detroit Future City Implementation Office drives projects, informs decisions and influences processes so that key initiatives implemented in the City of Detroit are in accordance with the Detroit Strategic Framework.