Detroit, the Big Fixer-Upper

A conservative friend and fellow resident of Michigan brought up a perennial topic: the decline and fall of Detroit.

I asked him a question based on a recurring fantasy of mine: “if you were suddenly to become rich–insanely rich–and decided to make Detroit your project, what would you do? What could you do? What difference could one person make, even with unlimited resources?

He didn’t have much of an answer.

I though maybe he could  buy up an empty neighborhood and develop it unde…

  1. Mr. Dart

    There are vast sections within the city limits that should be turned back into farmland.  The population within the city limits was 1,850,00 in 1950 and is just 710,00 today.  There’s no reason to spend money trying to get people to repopulate the emptied areas.  The metro area is nearly 4.5 Million people and they are happy to reside outside the dysfunctional city.  Just scrape the remaining streets and empty houses out of the depopulated sections and sell it as farmland. 

    The soil in Southeastern Michigan is quite good.

  2. Misthiocracy
    Xennady: I’ve always thought the best way to save Detroit would be to bury it under several hundred billion tons of lava, as eventually something useful would grow at the site.

    However, I realize that this is not practicable.

    There’s no need. Vast tracts of Detroit are already returning to nature. It’s not uncommon to see deer grazing in former Detroit neighbourhoods or industrial sites.

    Which raises a question: Why bother redeveloping Detroit?  Is there something special about this particular area of real estate that says there HAS to be a city there?

    Most of the people have moved out, and wildlife is moving in. Why must this scenario be seen as intolerable?

  3. Misthiocracy
    Terry: There are vast sections within the city limits that should be turned back into farmland.  The population within the city limits was 1,850,00 in 1950 and is just 710,00 today.  There’s no reason to spend money trying to get people to repopulate the emptied areas.  The metro area is nearly 4.5 Million people and they are happy to reside outside the dysfunctional city.  Just scrape the remaining streets and empty houses out of the depopulated sections and sell it as farmland. 

    Plus, with so many of the people gone, right now Detroit is the safest its been in decades. You can even walk the (deserted) streets at night.

    I love this video, of the tv personality playing golf across the city.

    It’s supposed to say “isn’t this terrible” but I see a certain sort of beauty in it.  It’s like a coral reef growing over the hull of a wrecked ship.

  4. Yeah...ok.

    Why try to save it? Are you trying to hide the decline? Allow the experiment to finish its normal life.

  5. raycon and lindacon

    Don’t waste your time or your money no matter how rich you are.  Until the ‘progressives’ who run the city can be run off, there is no future for Detroit.  It is a liability of democracy.

    This is an adventure in onanism.

  6. Jimmy Carter

    Or to lead the elected board of a district that ranks at the nation’s bottom for literacy.

    “Leading The Behind”

  7. Misthiocracy

    The problem with the “turn it into farmland”  idea is that demolition costs money. You want taxpayers to pay for it?

    The Packard plant was closed in the 1950s, and yet it’s still standing.

    No farmer’s gonna pay for it. The cost of demolition and soil cleanup would never be recouped by the revenue from a farm.

  8. Fredösphere
    Yeah…ok.: Why try to save it? Are you trying to hide the decline? Allow the experiment to finish its normal life. · 12 minutes ago

    There’s a lot of infrastructure there. Some of it is still actually usable. There’s a riverfront that could be something great. The city’s location remains a natural focal point for its suburbs. Who knows, restoring the city might interact positively with efforts to get blacks on track to self-sufficiency.

    I think treating all of that as disposable (if that’s a fair depiction of your position) is the opposite of conservative.

  9. Fredösphere
    Yeah…ok.: Why try to save it? Are you trying to hide the decline? Allow the experiment to finish its normal life. · 35 minutes ago

    I’d also say the experiment is as finished as it ever will be. Those that haven’t learned the lesson from it never will.

  10. Charleen Larson

    I nominate Fredösphere for the Dagny Taggart Award.  It’s a gold statuette of a man holding the world on his shoulders.

    (Take all the time you like for your acceptance speech.)

  11. Misthiocracy
    Fredösphere

    Yeah…ok.: Why try to save it? Are you trying to hide the decline? Allow the experiment to finish its normal life. · 12 minutes ago

    There’s a lot of infrastructure there. Some of it is still actually usable. There’s a riverfront that could be something great. The city’s location remains a natural focal point for its suburbs. Who knows, restoring the city might interact positively with efforts to get blacks on track to self-sufficiency.

    I think treating all of that as disposable (if that’s a fair depiction of your position) is the opposite of conservative. 

    Ok, new question: Why are “we” responsible for saving it, if the people who live(d) there aren’t (weren’t) willing to save it?

  12. Misthiocracy

    There has been talk of this sort of stuff since before I was a student at the University of Windsor across the river from Detroit.  It will never come to pass until governments in Michigan get off the backs of Michiganders.

    It’s been possible to buy up huge tracts of land in Detroit for $1 (with the promise of developing it) for ages.  Nobody ever does it because the agreements they would have to sign make it impossible.  They can’t kick anybody out, they have to cater to the existing residents, they have to deal with mountains of red tape and comply with oceans of regulations, union rules, municipal corruption, etc, etc.

    There is no way to make a go of it until the governments in the area pitch out at the rules and regulations.  Not gonna happen.

  13. HeartlandPatriot

    If I were given the City of Detroit, I would do the only rational thing I could do . . . I’d give it back.

  14. DocJay

    Remove all the residents and put them in capitalist education camps.

  15. Yeah...ok.
    Fredösphere

    There’s a lot of infrastructure there. Some of it is still actually usable. There’s a riverfront that could be something great. The city’s location remains a natural focal point for its suburbs.

    I think treating all of that as disposable (if that’s a fair depiction of your position) is the opposite of conservative. · 12 hours ago

    Usable infrastructure, like unions and city council, Ford Field etc. is surrounded by much more crumbling infrastructure; like ALL the roads and the airport. Detroit is only a focal point because you have to travel thru Detroit to get out of it. Or to get to the Windsor Ballet.

    You are correct. I consider all of it disposable. From my perspective, the cost to recover and reuse assets in SE Michigan exceeds the value of those assets.

  16. Misthiocracy

    There are hipster colonies moving in to Detroit at the moment, to set up new “artist collectives” and such, because of the dirt cheap real estate. Often, they don’t bother buying buildings at all, since squatting works better (no red tape, no property tax, etc.).

    When the only new business your city attracts are collectivist artist squatters’ camps, that’s gotta tell you something.

  17. BlueAnt

    Buy up acreage for pennies on the dollar. Turn it into BlueAntLand, a theme park celebrating the greatness that is me, with roller coasters, a granite statue at every crossroads, and enough state fair junk food to give Mayor Bloomberg a hissy fit 3 states over!

    Alternatively, I suppose you could buy it all, build neighborhoods where homeowners associations are outlawed, reconstruct limited civil authorities, fill it with private or charter schools, and eventually secede from the county/city.  

    The real problem is that anything you purchase would be susceptible to the Detroit city government, and ultimately the Michigan state government.  Both are stocked with California-style destructive liberal types, certain to ban any kind of grand scheme you might launch.  (Or merely tax it out of feasibility.)

    There might be some hope if you could get the city to give you free reign over your purchases.  No union rules, no subsidizing the existing city structure, no going before a council for land use or zoning approvals, etc.  But liberals are not so keen on giving up the power they wield over private citizens’ lives.

    Which is too bad, BlueAntLand would be awesome.  Free funnel cake with every ticket!

  18. skipsul
    Yeah…ok.

    Fredösphere

     

    There’s a lot of infrastructure there. Some of it is still actually usable. There’s a riverfront that could be something great. The city’s location remains a natural focal point for its suburbs.

    I think treating all of that as disposable (if that’s a fair depiction of your position) is the opposite of conservative. · 12 hours ago

    Usable infrastructure, like unions and city council, Ford Field etc. is surrounded by much more crumbling infrastructure; like ALL the roads and the airport. Detroit is only a focal point because you have to travel thru Detroit to get out of it. Or to get to the Windsor Ballet.

    You are correct. I consider all of it disposable. From my perspective, the cost to recover and reuse assets in SE Michigan exceeds the value of those assets. · 22 minutes ago

    The only reason people even fly through Detroit is because of 1930′s era FAA route restrictions.  Break the old FAA hub system and Detroit would lose even that.

  19. Jimmy Carter
    BlueAnt:  Free funnel cake with every ticket! · 22 minutes ago

    C’mon. We ain’t stupid. We know the cost of that funnel cake would be passed down to the admission price.

    Please, keep the funnel cakes and lower the price of admission.

  20. Xennady

    I’ve always thought the best way to save Detroit would be to bury it under several hundred billion tons of lava, as eventually something useful would grow at the site.

    However, I realize that this is not practicable.

    More seriously, if I had vast wealth and I wanted to waste it attempting to fix Detroit I would use bribery to buy-off every officeholder and union member to get them to approve the disestablishment of the city and its idiotic government. Then it could be turned over to competent leadership.

    But that wouldn’t work either, because the problem is much vaster than the mere city of Detroit. The whole country has a problem, because otherwise Detroit couldn’t have descended into its world-famous state of ruin, because otherwise the still-functioning rest of the government would have prevented it.

    But since the rest of the government also functions poorly the ruin of Detroit wasn’t prevented, just like the ruin of California wasn’t prevented either.

    The whole paradigm of American governance has failed, not just Detroit.

    That’s the real problem here, and there may not be a solution other than revolution. Alas.

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