The demolition of structures in Jackson continues unabated.
Replace the mayor and city council persons who are supporting this demolition program
There is no question that some structures in Jackson are old, dilapidated and contribute to the perception of our city as a run down blighted area to avoid. The removal of these structures is absolutely essential to revitalizing Jackson.
A secondary consequence for the public schools is the widespread condemnation and demolition of non-owner occupied housing which contributes an extra 18 mils to the schools. As these businesses are driven to abandonment through outrageous inspection fees and general harassment of landlords, the revenues so needed by the public schools is further eroded.
JACKSON, MI – December 01, 2014 Sold as a silver bullet that would slash crime rates and increase property values, city lawmakers have for years championed an initiative aimed at eliminating blight in Jackson. Nearly three years and $3.6 million tax dollars later, more than 280 condemned buildings have disappeared under the city's home demolition program — with few marketable results.
A questionable rise in market values of homes and little change in crime rates make success hard to define. Jackson officials, though, claim it's too early to attempt an explanation at all.
JACKSON, MI – December 02, 2014 Nearly three years ago, the city of Jackson began an effort to reduce blight by razing homes and other buildings in targeted areas. Today, with $3.6 million budgeted through the spring to demolish 280 structures, we're still waiting for the pay out. An analysis by the Citizen Patriot recently found that 9-1-1 calls in targeted areas remained flat, while property values in those areas were flat or dropped slightly.
Given the lack of tangible results, we believe it's worth taking a critical review of the effort before investing more dollars. To date, about $2.5 million has been spent on demolishing blighted homes in Jackson.
In the recent application for a demolition funding grant by the city we find: 1. Rationale The City of Jackson reviewed areas of greatest concern and determined a north-south and east-west cross section through the middle of the City as the most appropriate target area for this project. Even considering the City's limited resources, staff was able to ascertain and document the very worst structures from residential neighborhoods. Although blight is pervasive throughout the community, the City's focus continues to be eradication of blighted properties closest to the downtown urban core and incidental to its resurgence. Areas and infrastructure leading to the center of the community are essential to Jackson's revival. Eradicating blighted structures along key corridors leading to the City center offers residents and visitors alike an opportunity to see beyond the community's problems in terms of neighborhood blight and focuses attention on specific conduits to a recovering urban core. Inevitably, no city thrives unless a strong urban nucleus or heart exists. (Burtch and Tischler, 2011-2014).
And further: – failing to clear dilapidated, vacant, substandard housing located in other parts of the City will undermine the City's ability to stabilize and grow Jackson's core. The TMA demonstrated downtown Jackson can support up to 1,300 new housing units; however, lenders are unwilling to finance downtown housing developments as the sizeable number of vacant or blighted housing units outside of downtown artificially inflates supply and lowers values. Where equity is lacking due to oversupply and decay, reinvestment will not occur.
Thus the message is clear. The city will demolish homes to force development in the down town core at the expense of the surrounding areas and city property taxpayers whose property values are being driven down except in the most affluent areas.
The city claims in their H4HH grant submittal: Inspectors evaluate the condition of residential properties, including such items as sidewalks, driveways, exterior stairs and rails, porches and decks, windows, doors, roofs, chimneys, gutters, soffit and fascia, siding, foundations and outbuildings. Inspectors also consider the condition of adjoining properties, parking, topography, and fences, then select one of five previously developed levels of required interior repair if actual access to the building was limited; however, to the extent practical, comprehensive evaluation of the property's electrical, plumbing, and heating systems is considered. The information returned from the field inspection is then transferred to a rehabilitation cost evaluation form containing predetermined unit pricing. Not only is an estimated value to repair the home into a safe and habitable condition, the cost evaluation form also provides an estimated cost for demolition based on the square footage of the residential structure plus detached garage, if present.
The problem with this scenario is that the inspectors fabricate an absurd cost for rehabilitation which is then used as a criteria to deny building permits unless a prospective owner agrees to the city's cost estimate and posts funds to an escrow account. Those funds would then be released by the city manager to pay contractors. We have looked at some of these houses and the city inspectors estimate $50-$150k in interior repairs without even entering the building. In one case they included replacing all the windows in a building that had been lead abated by a contractor and all the windows and doors replaced some years prior. They did not even look at the windows or doors. This just an underhanded ploy to prevent rehabilitation and facilitate demolition supporting their overall scheme.