Detroit looks at downsizing to save city; Wants to turn vacant lots into farmland
Detroit, the very symbol of American industrial might for most of the 20th century, is drawing up a radical renewal plan that calls for turning large swaths of this now-blighted, rusted-out city back into the fields and farmland that existed before the automobile. Operating on a scale never before attempted in this country, the city would demolish houses in some of its the most desolate sections and move residents into stronger neighborhoods. Roughly a quarter of the 139-square-mile city could go from urban to semi-rural. Near downtown, fruit trees and vegetable farms would replace neighborhoods that are an eerie landscape of empty buildings and vacant lots. The current plan would demolish about 10,000 houses and empty buildings in three years and pump new investment into stronger neighborhoods. In the neighborhoods that would be cleared, the city would offer to relocate residents or buy them out. The city could use tax foreclosure to claim abandoned property and invoke eminent domain for those who refuse to leave, much as cities now do for freeway projects. Mayor Dave Bing, who took office last year, is expected to unveil some details in his state-of-the-city address this month.