Thursday, May 28, 2009

A coop for 13015 Klinger

Mitch Cope recently signed a purchase agreement for the home 13015 Klinger. There was fire damage in the interior, some extensive floor damage, however not unfixable.

Together with Mitch, Toby Barlow and Kerstin Niemann, we're currently setting up a coop for the house based on bylaws inspired by Lafayette Park and Dutch Housing coorporation Ymere.

The ambition to use the house, amongst others, as a residency.

Photos by Mitch Cope

Monday, May 18, 2009

Detroit is our Future: The Detroit UnReal Estate Agency in Windsor

Across the river Detroit's Canadian twin city has been undergoing a comparatively protracted path of economic meltdown. This process is delayed as production in the auto industry reached its peak much later than in the US. Nevertheless the sprawl machine started up in the 1950s and it is still going strong in Windsor where it has spawned three new outlying townships (Tecumseh, Lakeshore, LaSalle) in the last twenty years. Commercial property owners have been busy boarding up and tearing down buildings in the city over the past couple of years, seemingly in final preparations for a funeral for the auto industry.

Henry Ford famously pronounced the demise of the city early on in the history of the auto industry: "we shall solve the city problem by leaving the city". Nowhere is this process more pronounced than in the Windsor neighborhood that bears his name: Ford Town (now Ford City). Drouillard Road is the main street that runs through this neighborhood. It was established around 1910 when Ford began to send auto parts from Detroit across the river for manufacturing in Canada in order to avoid tariffs levied on finished automobiles that were exported to Canada and other parts of the British Commonwealth. The growth and decline of this area was rapid: Ford City had reached its peak population in 1928 and by 1950 had been largely abandoned due to the closure of the main plant and the growth of the new suburbs, strip malls and other auto-related urban shifts.

Chrysler's assembly plant is currently the largest in Canada. The Chrysler complex covers approximately three square kilometers of southeast Windsor and is at the moment up for grabs. The security presence around the factory made it difficult to take pictures near any of the entrances.

Wednesday, May 6, 2009

Artists, Urban Blight and Gentrification

There's a very interesting discussion of the possibilities and limitations of artists as agents of urban renewal, both in and beyond Detroit, on The Clyde Fitch Report.  The author begins with his admiration for Richard Florida and the notion of  "the creative class," but ends on a more critical and complex note--that he's "all for the creative economy," but "wants a diverse economy as well."

A useful comparison is the Wall Street Journal's wholly uncritical perspective. In a recent piece, "Artists vs. Blight," the Journal re-recruited artists as "leaders of an urban vanguard that colonizes blighted areas."    What's at stake in this recruitment was made clear in a quote from the director of Cleveland's City Planning Commission:  "At first, the strategy was (placing artists in) old warehouses, now it's whole neighborhoods ... The next phase is capitalizing on the presence of artist and art-related businesses and using it as the lever for high-density development."  This is, of course, precisely the sort of development that aims to render the urban vanguard once again homeless...

Sunday, May 3, 2009

Detroit in Dutch media

NOVA, a Dutch news program featured Detroit last Saturday, May 2nd 2009. Apparently, Fiat is going to save Chrysler and 'Artists animate Detroit (Kunstenaars bezielen Detroit)' with Scott Hocking and the Detroit Unreal Estate Agency.

Saturday, May 2, 2009

Property Sold!

Unfortunately, the bank did not accept our offer. Instead they accepted another offer on this property.