UPDATE, APRIL 2015: The demolition data driving the demolition map referenced in this blog are now out of date. In addition, the City of Detroit is no longer hosting the map on its website. As an alternative, visit the D3 Open Data Portal to download more recent demolition data from the city or visit the city’s own data portal for demolition permits.
It is well known that vacant and abandoned homes have become a public safety threat and an overall burden on the recovery of neighborhoods in the City of Detroit. The scale of abandonment and blight in Detroit has become a national headline (“Detroit to Shrink Itself, Historic Homes and All”, “Among the Ghosts of Detroit”), as well as the focus of a new genre of photography and documentary (“At National Building Museum, a lens on the disintegration of Detroit”). Recognizing the problem, Mayor Bing has put a high priority on clearing the dangerous structures, and set an ambitious goal of demolishing 10,000 structures during his term in office. The City of Detroit is hoping to be more transparent in its effort to erase these public nuisances, by identifying vacant and dangerous buildings that have been demolished, and indicate where future demolitions are planned.
Working with the City of Detroit, Data Driven Detroit (D3) has developed an interactive map to visualize the demolition activity since 2010 (the beginning of the Bing Administration). The Detroit Buildings, Safety Engineering, and Environmental Department (BSEED), which manages the demolition permitting process, provided Data Driven Detroit a list of planned and completed demolitions. The demolition data is separated into three categories:
- Green: Buildings that have been approved for demolition by the City Council.
- Yellow: Approved demolition sites that are in process (shutting off utilities, surveying for asbestos, etc., and, if funding is available, bidding out contracts, active demolition).
- Blue: Sites where demolitions are completed, rubble has been removed and the earth has been re-graded.
Data Driven Detroit’s interactive map allows users to explore city demolitions that are planned to take place or have already been completed. Information for each demolition is available by clicking map markers. If the user zooms in far enough, parcel outlines are shown. The search box allows users to jump to a specific property demolition record. Finally, there is a feedback system where citizens can report other dangerous buildings or report errors in the demolition record.
It is our hope that citizens will find this tool useful in exploring activity around the city, as well as to put into perspective on the monumental effort that has been taking place over the past several years. The tool has already been recognized by local news outlets WDIV and CBS Detroit. We will be publishing a follow-up post that will delve deeper into the analysis and representation of these data over the coming days.
Data Driven Detroit wishes to recognize and thank the Woodward Corridor Initiative for generously providing funding for the development of this data and tool. It also wishes to thank the City of Detroit for allowing it the opportunity to collaborate in this effort.
For more on the Process of Demolishing Buildings, click here for Detroit 2020′s coverage.