Battle of the blight

Oct 31, 2001 at 12:00 am

Unfortunately, revitalizing Detroit neighborhoods isn’t as simple as finding well-heeled developers to make projects happen. Even when that occurs, the city has this little problem of what to do with the low-income residents who can’t afford the upscale housing the city is green-lighting these days. Case in point: Brush Park.

Located next to Comerica Park and including new, $300,000 condos, the once-affluent Brush Park also has some of Detroit’s most visible examples of blight. But maybe not for long. The city Planning Commission is recommending that City Council adopt an ordinance on Nov. 5 to pave the way for stepped-up redevelopment projects in Brush Park, including traffic changes, preservation and conservation, redevelopment of more than 90 structures (should a developer be found) and other changes.

But some longtime residents oppose the plan. About 40 people showed up at a recent meeting, including developers and residents who support the ordinance. Emotions ran high. A middle-aged woman was dragged from the room yelling after someone suggested the meeting be canceled because equipment for a slide show wasn’t in place. Gwen Mingo, chair of the Brush Park Citizens’ District Council, said the plan is “gentrification, pure and simple.” But Marsha Bruhn, Planning Commission director, said many of the concerns are carryovers from 1989, when a plan was adopted that would displace more than 500 residents. Bruhn said planners worked hard on the current plan, which “drastically” reduces the number of people who will be displaced. “We feel it’s much more consistent with what the neighborhood really wanted, but was unable to achieve 10 years ago.”

Lisa M. Collins contributed to News Hits, which is edited by Curt Guyette. He can be reached at 313-202-8004 or [email protected]