Detroit's top 10 urban planning blunders (and 10 successes) 

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  • David Turnley/Corbis/VCG via Getty Images

Blunder: The condemnation of Poletown
In 1980, General Motors purchased a shuttered Dodge plant in Hamtramck and announced plans for a massive factory to straddle the Detroit-Hamtramck border. The modern plant was to replace two aging facilities on the city's west side. All GM asked in return was for Detroit to obtain $300 million from the federal government to demolish the former Dodge plant, condemn 465 acres of private property, raze 1,176 buildings, and displace 3,438 residents of Detroit's Poletown neighborhood — in addition to a 12-year property tax break. The Poletown Neighborhood Council sued the city to stop the land grab on the grounds that economic development was not a valid reason to seize private property. The case made its way up to the Michigan Supreme Court, which ruled in the city's favor in 1981. Ultimately, the court reversed its own decision in 2004.


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