Demolition dollar wads 

Demolition costs have spiked upward under the Kwame Kilpatrick administration, according to budget documents the mayor’s office has forwarded to the City Council.

The average cost of tearing down a vacant structure in Detroit has gone from $6,900 in fiscal 2000-01 — under the Dennis Archer administration — to as much as $16,500 last year. The price per structure went up in part because the number of buildings torn down decreased — from 2,217 in 2000-01 to an estimated 650 last fiscal year, according to Building Safety and Engineering budget documents.

Kilpatrick spokesman Jamaine Dickens says there must be a mistake in the numbers. Last calendar year, the city took down 1,995 buildings, he says, many more than estimated in the budget data. Dickens says the 1,995 structures were taken down between January and December 2002, while the budget data covers the fiscal year, July 1-June 30.

City buildings director Amru Meah was not immediately available for comment to sort out the numbers. For the upcoming fiscal year, the mayor is requesting more than $12 million from City Council to take down 1,200 buildings — or about $10,300 per structure. Dickens says costs are going up because the city is complying with expensive environmental regulations that weren’t followed in the past, such as proper disposal of house rubble and site cleanup. In the past, the city was fined for not following the regulations, says Dickens, who could not provide specifics on such fines.

City Council President Maryann Mahaffey is demanding an explanation, stating in a letter to the building department last week, “I am very concerned about the escalating costs associated with demolition.”

Send comments to

We welcome readers to submit letters regarding articles and content in Detroit Metro Times. Letters should be a minimum of 150 words, refer to content that has appeared on Detroit Metro Times, and must include the writer's full name, address, and phone number for verification purposes. No attachments will be considered. Writers of letters selected for publication will be notified via email. Letters may be edited and shortened for space.

Email us at

Support Local Journalism.
Join the Detroit Metro Times Press Club

Local journalism is information. Information is power. And we believe everyone deserves access to accurate independent coverage of their community and state. Our readers helped us continue this coverage in 2020, and we are so grateful for the support.

Help us keep this coverage going in 2021. Whether it's a one-time acknowledgement of this article or an ongoing membership pledge, your support goes to local-based reporting from our small but mighty team.

Join the Metro Times Press Club for as little as $5 a month.

Read the Digital Print Issue

January 12, 2022

View more issues


Never miss a beat

Sign Up Now

Subscribe now to get the latest news delivered right to your inbox.

Best Things to Do In Detroit

© 2022 Detroit Metro Times - Contact Us

Website powered by Foundation