June 8, 2014 at 6:31 pm

Duggan jabs back at Washington Post's look at Detroit's abandoned properties

Detroit — Sunday’s Washington Post embraced Detroit’s so-called “ruin porn,” prompting Mayor Mike Duggan to take a jab at the coverage.

The centerpiece of the Sunday Post print edition is a photo of three empty Detroit homes, and inside the newspaper two full pages are devoted to ravaged buildings — the Packard plant, abandoned churches and decaying homes are some of the images. The Post’s website includes a photo gallery.

But Duggan would have preferred another angle, based on a tweet he sent Sunday to Detroit News reporter David Shepardson.

“Look forward to day when paper showcases our thriving city!” Duggan wrote.

The print edition of the Post has no story accompanying the images taken by Michael S. Williamson. On its website, there is a photo gallery of 21 images, all snapped by Williamson, and an accompanying Associated Press story about the city’s bankruptcy proceedings.

Detroit blight has entranced many reporters and artists for decades, particularly during and after the Great Recession that hit the city in 2008-2009.

Detroit has embarked on Marshall Plan-style strategy to get rid of pervasive blight in the city within five years.

Last month, the most comprehensive effort yet to catalog Detroit’s empty, dangerous properties and trashy lots found that 84,641 properties are blighted or vacant and will cost $850 million to eliminate from neighborhoods.

That’s according to the Detroit Blight Removal Task Force, an effort of private- and public-sector leaders that was convened last fall by the Obama administration.

Even the $850 million estimate isn’t the total cost to destroy all blight. The real cost may be more than $2 billion if former big commercial and industrial facilities such as factories are included.

In May, Duggan launched a nuisance abatement program that targets abandoned homes in certain neighborhoods for owner rehabilitation or legal action leading to repossession by the city. The goal is to sell nearly 400 vacant homes by the end of the year.

Department of Neighborhoods Director Charlie Beckham told City Council the Duggan administration may expand the program to takes titles of vacant businesses.

The program would first targeted city-owned properties like abandoned libraries and firehouses and then move on to private properties.

Staff Writer David Shepardson contributed.