Detroit Mayor Dave Bing and housing heir Bill Pulte at a news conference Thursday morning discussed a new public-private initiative launched by Pulte Capital Partners, LLC, and others to demolish blighted structures in Detroit.
Pulte, the managing partner of Pulte Capital Partners, is leading the newly unveiled Detroit Blight Authority, the nonprofit program that has already begun demolishing vacant homes near Eastern Market.
Bing declined to share details on the program, including how many buildings will be demolished or where the next demolition site will be.
“We don’t have a full scale plan to present just yet. There’s a lot of conversation that’s going on. That’s where we are,” Bing said when asked to clarify specifics. “There are a lot of different areas across the city we are looking at we haven’t determined what the next one is going to be.”
It’s not a redevelopment strategy, simply an effort to clean the city, Pulte said.
The Pulte name carries with it the reputation of a high-powered national housing development firm and with that, the power to cut major deals to drive down demolition costs, Pulte said.
Pulte Capital Partners is funded by its parent company Bloomfield Hills-based Pulte Homes, although the two are separate entities.
Bing, who has been criticized for his widespread outreach to private companies to help the city through its financial chaos, says it’s about teamwork.
“We got too many people in our area who are isolated in their thoughts,” Bing said. “They think that everything that happens in Detroit has to happen with Detroiters. That’s unrealistic. We can’t make the fixed that are necessary by ourselves.
The demolition strategy is a new one that has yet to be tried and tested, but that Bing says is promising.
“We are not claiming to save the city but we think it will be a great model,” Pulte said.
William Pulte, Bill Pulte’s Grandfather and founder of Pulte Homes, said when his grandson came to him the demolition plan his initial response was to avoid it “with a ten foot pole”. But since then Pulte has completely changed his tune. What changed?
“Billy convinced me that he could convince the mayor. I went with him and the mayor did a beautiful job of asking every dang question in the book and he was satisfied that this was a different, better plan than anyone else,” Pulte said.
Although the Pulte family has offered ahand in demolishing process, the question still remains as to how the project will be funded on a larger scale.
Bing said he would seek federal funds for the project.
“My job now is to go down and spend some time in Washington DC to get some federal funding to help us get this done,” Bing said. “We want to take baby steps. It’s too soon to say what we’re going to do with repurposing the land.”
A key part of the Detroit Bight Authority is not only removing manmade structures but also clearing brush and limbing trees for more visibility to deter crime, Pulte said.