On Tuesday morning, Detroit Mayor Dave Bing gave a candid assessment of the Motor City, its struggles and hopes for its future during a press conference with reporters in town for “Transformation Detroit,” a three-day event examining the city’s future. Here’s a glimpse at five interesting statistics and quotes Bing delivered:
1. Asked about the most difficult aspects of luring outside companies into Detroit, the mayor said health care and pension costs prevented the city from offering competitive relocation packages. “If we don’t have health-care reform and pension reform, we’re just blowing in the wind, quite frankly,” Bing said.
2. He said more than 80,000 empty home are located in Detroit, contributing to the blight outsiders often associate with the city. Under Bing, the city demolished approximately 3,200 homes in the past year. His goal is 10,000 by the end of his term. “It’s the tip of the iceberg,” he said.
3. Real estate isn’t exactly a hot commodity in Detroit. Home sales fell 4.3 percent in May from the previous year and the median sales price of $65,000 was down 13.3 percent from 2010. Bing joked with the group of assembled reporters he’d be happy to help them purchase real estate in the city. But one area in which he foresees real-estate potential is in the immediate areas east and west of Woodward Avenue, where the city plans its first light-rail service. “That’s where the activity is going to be,” Bing said.
4. As part of efforts to lure more young residents in the city, Bing said Detroit officials need to do a better job of developing their waterfront. He said it’s “the most undeveloped and valuable piece of land in the state of Michigan.”
5. Crime prevention was one of the mayor’s top priorities. Detroit Police Chief Ralph Godbee Jr. said that violent crime had collectively fallen 12 percent so far in 2011 across categories of assault, burglary, rape, larceny and auto theft. But year to date, the city’s homicide rate showed an 11 percent uptick. There were 140 homicides in Detroit through June 5, 2011, up from 126 through the same period last year.