Discuss Detroit DISCUSS DETROIT! Policy changes to tip things in the favor of sanity Previous Next
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Hunchentoot
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Username: Hunchentoot

Post Number: 124
Registered: 03-2005
Posted on Saturday, February 28, 2009 - 5:12 am: Edit PostDelete PostMove Post (Moderator/Admin Only)

Over on my Livejournal I just made a personal list of 76 buildings that have been destroyed or doomed since 2005. A lot of the argument in this forum goes back and forth between what preservationists want and what reality dictates. But in my opinion, the reality is sometimes a circumstance of policy, not inevitability. It seems to me, then, that if we could enact our democratic principles to change these policies that we could reduce the ferocious pace of demolition.

For example, one architect I met proposed that because large vacant buildings are torn down in part due to taxation based on square footage in favor of a parking lot which is taxed at a lower value, that a mothballing standard be created. If the owner mothballs the building to this standard, it would then be taxed as though it had been demolished. This would satisfy the desire of the owner to reduce taxes and of the public to preserve infrastructure.

I would propose twp additions to this policy change. Should a building owner mothball their property to the standard, that any public money that would have gone toward demolition would be instead allocated for this mothballing or for renovations. Also, I would want to encourage the conversion of buildings for ground-floor use, which is something that happens "naturally" anyhow (think of the building containing American Coney Island).

With changes such as these, wouldn't certain buildings start to look *possible* to save rather than being absolutely a lost cause?

If you disagree that's fine, but please post ideas for realistic *policy changes* that would swap out our culture of urban obliteration for one that would foster a city in which people would live.
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Eric_michael
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Username: Eric_michael

Post Number: 12
Registered: 08-2004
Posted on Saturday, February 28, 2009 - 9:12 pm: Edit PostDelete PostMove Post (Moderator/Admin Only)

sounds like a great idea to me!
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Retroit
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Username: Retroit

Post Number: 991
Registered: 04-2008
Posted on Sunday, March 01, 2009 - 2:56 pm: Edit PostDelete PostMove Post (Moderator/Admin Only)

How about these?:
1. Enforcing hefty fines on owners that do not maintain their property. Make the cost of owning a run-down abandoned building so burdensome that the owner will choose the cheaper option of renovation.
2. Tax businesses on revenue/profit instead of square footage. This would make it cheaper to own a mothballed building than a parking lot.
3. A ban on all demolition unless: a.) that building will be replaced immediately with another or b.) that building is in imminent threat of structural collapse.
4. No public money for urban renewal. Government should stay neutral in deciding the business winners and losers. Establish an equal (and reduced!) tax policy across the board. Let market principles determine growth. Government can promote growth by simplifying the legal process (permits, fees, zoning, etc.)
Just some ideas off the top of my head. I'm sure there are complications I have not fully assessed, and some modifications may be necessary.
Excellent topic, Hunchentoot. Addressing the underlining policies that are the root of the problem instead of simply blaming the evil, white, racist, suburban billionaires that are actually able to take advantage of the inherent weaknesses of those policies.
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Gene
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Username: Gene

Post Number: 204
Registered: 10-2006
Posted on Sunday, March 01, 2009 - 3:19 pm: Edit PostDelete PostMove Post (Moderator/Admin Only)

Quote:

"No public money for urban renewal. Government should stay neutral in deciding the business winners and losers. Establish an equal (and reduced!) tax policy across the board. Let market principles determine growth"

Great concept,however Obama will never let that happen.

A vacant building still needs maintiance and security to keep the scrapers out, with no rent being paid this is cost prohibitive. These buildings need tenants. The shifting of jobs to Detroit with tax breaks is not the answer. The new employees get an automatic pay cut with the City tax, and in most cases the need to pay to park.

These buildings have no future, tear the eyesores down before the scrappers do.
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Transitrider
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Username: Transitrider

Post Number: 91
Registered: 01-2007
Posted on Thursday, March 05, 2009 - 11:59 am: Edit PostDelete PostMove Post (Moderator/Admin Only)

http://modeldmedia.com/feature s/statecredits18109.aspx
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Professorscott
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Username: Professorscott

Post Number: 1863
Registered: 12-2006
Posted on Thursday, March 05, 2009 - 12:21 pm: Edit PostDelete PostMove Post (Moderator/Admin Only)

Retroit, if you make the cost of owning an abandoned building burdensome, then the owner will walk away and the City will own yet another abandoned building. You are ignoring this choice, yet it is the choice more and more owners are making.

Detroit itself needs to make better choices and find a way to convince people that living in the City, or owning a business in the City, is a viable option. This it has not made any effort whatever to do. Absent that, you can do any damn thing you want with the existing unoccupied buildings and it won't make a tinker's damn bit of difference to anyone.

The biggest problem I have with the current Cobo circus is that it shines a bright light on something that is killing us: the political leaders of Detroit do not all appear to have any grounding in reality. When will that end? When the population hits 600,000? 400,000?
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Danindc
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Username: Danindc

Post Number: 4501
Registered: 10-2003
Posted on Thursday, March 05, 2009 - 12:35 pm: Edit PostDelete PostMove Post (Moderator/Admin Only)

quote:

"No public money for urban renewal. Government should stay neutral in deciding the business winners and losers. Establish an equal (and reduced!) tax policy across the board. Let market principles determine growth"

Great concept,however Obama will never let that happen.



What does the President have to do with Detroit's policy of "demolition first"?

Pennsylvania has a provision in its tax law that assesses tax rates based on the location of the property, and not its use. For example, a surface parking lot downtown would be taxed at the same rate per acre as a high-rise office building on the same site. This would prompt property owners to start generating revenue with their properties, or sell them to someone who will.

The District of Columbia assesses a higher property tax rate for vacant buildings--more than four times the rate if the building were occupied.

Good topic for discussion!
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Stosh
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Username: Stosh

Post Number: 91
Registered: 01-2009
Posted on Thursday, March 05, 2009 - 12:37 pm: Edit PostDelete PostMove Post (Moderator/Admin Only)

Dan, that's a great solution. How is that worked out state wide?
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Detroitnerd
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Username: Detroitnerd

Post Number: 3599
Registered: 07-2004
Posted on Thursday, March 05, 2009 - 12:58 pm: Edit PostDelete PostMove Post (Moderator/Admin Only)

Two words: Ward System.
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Retroit
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Username: Retroit

Post Number: 997
Registered: 04-2008
Posted on Thursday, March 05, 2009 - 1:32 pm: Edit PostDelete PostMove Post (Moderator/Admin Only)

"Retroit, if you make the cost of owning an abandoned building burdensome, then the owner will walk away and the City will own yet another abandoned building. You are ignoring this choice, yet it is the choice more and more owners are making."
Many private property owners have the means of maintaining property, but do not do so because they know the City will not go after them. One of the reasons (among many others) people do not want to live or do business in the city is because the City has allowed a free-for-all in regards to ordinance compliance.
If a property owner walks away from his property, that means he has no intention of profiting from that property and therefore would probably not take care of that property if he retained ownership. In this case, it is better that he does walk away. At least the city can attempt to sell the property to someone else who may comply with ownership responsibilities. In other words, there is no benefit to the city to have properties under private ownership if those owners are not maintaining their properties and not paying fines or taxes on those properties.
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Kensingtony
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Username: Kensingtony

Post Number: 59
Registered: 09-2008
Posted on Thursday, March 05, 2009 - 4:05 pm: Edit PostDelete PostMove Post (Moderator/Admin Only)

"Mothballing" is a fine idea to a point.The other part of the idea has to be that you have someone(or a group of someones)that eventually wants to use the building at some point.How long would a building be kept mothballed?With the area's shrinking population base,there's going to be an even bigger excess of capacity in the future-which will fly in the face of the mothballing idea.And until the city fathers of Detroit give a big rethink to the tax rates,there won't be an incentive for people to occupy the buildings.

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