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An occupied house alone in a sea of empty lots on the west side of Detroit.
An apparently occupied house alone in a sea of empty lots on the west side of Detroit.

In a unanimous vote this week, the Detroit City Council approved the transfer of 10,000 parcels to the Detroit Land Bank Authority that will be available for residents to purchase. It’s part of what’s called a “side lot” program, that makes it easy for people to expand their properties if the city owns the parcel next to them.

The goal would be to take lots that are previously costing the city money to upkeep and/or with liability and bring them back on to the tax rolls. Cleveland has done a similar program and Chicago has a program to offload lots for $1, however the Chicago program doesn’t require lots to be adjacent, just on the same block.

Reports additionally say this is part of a compromise council members made with Emergency Manager Kevyn Orr, as he originally wanted to include close to 39,000 parcels in the transfer to target in various neighborhoods where Detroit has received “Hardest Hit” funds from the Federal government. That program was created in 2010 to help areas of the country heavily affected by the economic downturn, and $498.6 million was sent to Michigan out of a total of $7.6 billion.

The Detroit Land Bank Authority was created to handle vacant, abandoned, and foreclosed property in the Detroit and return them to use. They handle the Hardest Hit fund we just mentioned, the nuisance abatement program, the very popular online home auctions at BuildingDetroit.org as well as the side lot sales, and the authority aims to partner with the community on blight and redevelopment.

If you’re interested in picking up a side lot for yourself, you’re going to need to meet the following criteria, according to the DLBA website:

  • All applicants must own the house next door to the side lot. It must be a residential building.
  • Applicants cannot have any overdue taxes.
  • Side lots will be sold on a first come, first serve basis.
  • Preference will be given to the neighbor that has maintained the lot.
  • You will be paying the annual property taxes on this property after purchase.

They outline that they’ll review applications within three business days.

Will you be picking up a side lot? Do you think this is a good program?