In the Media

900 vacant industrial sites in Detroit seem ‘like a crisis’

June 2, 2017

Paula Gardner of MLive Media Group examines our latest special report on vacant industrial properties, which highlights the need to transform Detroit’s hundreds of former industrial sites into viable alternative uses:

900 vacant industrial sites in Detroit seem ‘like a crisis’
By: Paula Gardner
May 31, 2017

Detroit’s revitalization fills headlines and plans to address its vacant housing stock.

But another real estate crisis looms for the city: 900 vacant industrial sites.

These properties – most obsolete – are scattered across neighborhoods, according to a new report by Detroit Future City prepared ahead of the Mackinac Policy Conference.

“(These) are not in industrial parks, or places that are more optimum for industrial use,” said Anika Goss-Foster, executive director of Detroit Future City, in an interview.

She continued: “They’re everywhere.”

The concern, she said, is that no plan exists for these buildings, whether demolition or repurposing. While residential and commercial development is driving tremendous change in the city, these properties create a large void in value and potential.

“Without a strategic approach to repurposing these properties, they will remain fallow for years to come, posing threats to public health and safety, and undermining Detroit’s recovery,” the report says.

One famous example of one of these properties is the former Packard Plant, where renovations began in May to renovate a portion of the 3.5-million-square-foot site near the General Motors Hamtramck plant on the near east side.

But that building is far different from the typical vacant industrial property in Detroit, Goss-Foster said.

Its size distinguishes it, while 2/3 of the rest of the vacant industrial property is under 100,000 square feet.

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