orangeleader.com (Orange, Texas)

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July 19, 2013

Residents worry if bankruptcy will better Detroit

(Continued)

DETROIT —

"I don't think the trickle-down theory works in Brightmoor," Talbert said. "The whole issue of bankruptcy will not impact poor people. Only when organizations start moving our way will those houses be removed."

DECLINING PROPERTY VALUES

In the heyday of its industrial power, Detroit used to boast of having one of the highest owner-occupied housing rates in the country thanks to the then-booming auto industry that offered well-paying jobs and a gateway to the middle class. In the 1950s, 1.8 million people lived here. Now, the population struggles to stay about 700,000. With neighborhoods in neglect, property values have plummeted.

One pocket of promise is in the Woodbridge neighborhood between the city's rebounding Midtown and downtown areas. The homes on Woodbridge's tree-lined Avery Street are mostly occupied and well-kept — something that attracted Daniel Mercer to a structurally sound but cosmetically needy two-story Victorian built in 1900.

"I used to come driving up and down the street all the time because I work in the area ... and I happened to see a (for-sale) sign, and it went up that day," said Mercer, 54, a painter and handyman. "There are a lot of people that have the same love for these old houses that I have ... and the passion to fix them up."

He bought the home about six weeks ago and plans to move in with his wife on Aug 10. The fact that he's moving in at the same time the city is filing for bankruptcy isn't lost on him.

He believes property values will climb even if they take an initial dip because of bankruptcy.

"We've got a 10-year plan, to be honest with you," he said. "There's a lot of work to do."

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