A recent city tour featured the vacant homes in the Jefferson Chalmers neighborhood, with stories of the people who once lived there and the neighborhood it used to be.
Called the “Vacant, Non-Blighted Tour,” this effort by the Michigan Historic Preservation Network and the Detroit Land Bank Authority is right around the corner from where we live and work, an area we’ve been preaching about for a long time.
This neighborhood has the potential to be Detroit’s next Corktown. In fact, the city has selected it and the surrounding areas as the first enforcement zones for their landlord laws - 48215 Jefferson Chalmers, 48224 Morningside, East English Village, Cornerstone Village and Denby. Areas right around our office - on a good day with a tail wind, I can hit a golf ball to these houses.
The city has selected these areas as opportunity zones in low-income zip codes. This is downtown Detroit, with federal, state and city governments coming together to agree that opportunity is available here. It’s where we are. Where we are proud to be.
As Detroiters strolled along, hearing about the historical richness and development of this now-vacant area, they were foretelling the future. Lots of big money is going to flow in there, and the little investor gets to ride the wave if he gets in early and smart.
The tour not only told the history of the neighborhood; it told the current story, too. Once you engage with real people and real history, you are part of it. You can’t ignore it, and mostly you don’t want to.