Storied Brewster-Douglass projects will come down with $6.5M in federal help

Posted on November 15, 2012

Mayor Dave Bing said this morning that the federal government has awarded the city $6.5 million to help tear down one of the city’s most visible abandoned eyesores, the Brewster-Douglass public housing projects near I-75 just outside downtown.

The storied housing projects, once home to famous Detroiters including Motown diva Diana Ross, could be demolished as early as next spring, Bing said at a news conference outside one of the shorter buildings at the complex. The towers have been vacant for more than two decades, making them a magnet for crime and fires.

“I know there’s a lot of history here,” Bing said. “Some people may even think that it shouldn’t come down, but as we look at changing the face of Detroit, it’s going to start with this. Transformation is on its way. There are a lot of good things that are starting to happen.”

Bing said the demolition of the projects fits in with his plan to speed up removal of thousands of abandoned, blighted homes. The clearing of the Brewster-Douglass buildings will open up 18 acres of property for redevelopment, and Bing said that, while it’s too early to say what will replace the complex, developers from around the country and locally are lining up to give ideas and propose plans to redevelop the land.

The demolition would take about a year, Bing said.

Antonio Riley, a regional administrator for the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development, joined Bing for the announcement of the federal grant. Riley said the money is part of the Obama administration’s Strong Cities, Strong Communities program to help local governments revitalize blighted areas.

“There’s a real sense of renewal in this community,” Riley said.

Matt Helms, Detroit Free Press