Detroit Blight Authority reboots in Oakland County

May 1, 2014

Detroit Blight Authority Chair Bill Pulte.
Detroit Blight Authority Chair Bill Pulte.
Credit Sarah Cwiek / Michigan Radio

The Detroit Blight Authority is turning its attention to Oakland County.

The non-profit group has started working with the city of Pontiac, which has more than 550 homes on a demolition list. Almost 400 of them can be demolished immediately.

The Blight Authority had been working with the city of Detroit, taking on several large-scale residential demolition projects.

But Mayor Mike Duggan wanted to go in a different direction. He’s moved to consolidate the city’s blight-eradication program, and recently cut ties to the group.

But now Oakland County Executive L. Brooks Patterson has rolled out the welcome mat for the Authority and its chair, Bill Pulte.

Patterson says work will start immediately in Pontiac, and demolitions should proceed quickly.

“Having somebody like Bill Pulte onboard, that future now becomes much closer,” Patterson says. “We’re not talking about years – we’re hopefully talking about months.”

Pulte, the grandson of the founder of housing construction conglomerate Pulte Homes, premised the Blight Authority on bringing speed, efficiencies and lower costs to mass demolitions and clean-up. It’s funded largely by corporate and charitable donations.

While he’ll be tackling smaller-scale blight in Pontiac, Pulte says the same principles should apply.

“As you can imagine, the last several years we’ve learned a lot doing blight work in a city like Detroit,” Pulte says. “And being able to take that skill set to the city of Pontiac will be very meaningful.”

Patterson says leaders in several other Oakland County cities have also expressed interest in working with the Blight Authority, and their efforts will likely expand beyond Pontiac soon.