About 100 abandoned and foreclosed houses in Pontiac are being demolished and replaced with new or renovated homes as part of a major revitalization program organizers say could become a model of local urban renewal.
More than 100 homes have been demolished and nearly 20 renovated or rebuilt in the Unity Park district and throughout other parts of the city since May. The goal is to sell a record number of foreclosed homes and restore or replace them with homes featuring amenities that "defy the perception of abandoned homes." Prices range from $45,000 to $75,000 to eligible buyers.
Every home is being made energy efficient and true to the style of the city's old neighborhoods.
Home Renewal Systems
, a Farmington Hills company that specializes in urban development and revitalization, is part of a broad collaboration on the project that's funded by the Department of Housing and Urban Development's Neighborhood Stabilization Program.
Other players include governmental bodies such as the city of Pontiac, the Michigan State Housing Development Authority
and the Oakland County Land Bank.
Nonprofits such as the Community Housing Network
and Oakland County Habitat for Humanity
are also involved, as are the Michigan Association of Home Builders
and the Michigan Association of Realtors
. It was part of an Open House tour held recently and touted as an unprecedented showcase of homes in the city. A family relocating to Pontiac for one of the homes was part of the media event kicking off the tour.
"The great part of the program is we specifically look for local companies…and engage local developers," says Shannon Morgan, senior vice president of Home Renewal Systems.
Besides acquiring property and working as a developer or finding developers and facilitating the collaborative effort, Home Renewal Systems works to educate and prepare buyers to be lasting homeowners. The company is working on urban renewal projects in 15 other communities, Morgan says.
"There have been blight removal efforts through the years, but never to this level."
She says the extent of cooperation, the speed of the process and the interest from potential buyers has been astounding.
"It really is a model for everyone to follow. You've got a lot of great agencies involved and it is showing which initiatives work and what are the best practices...
"This is truly about a partnership that has worked unbelievably well," she says.
Some homes, including a historic renovation property powered by a geothermal well, were pre-brought, Morgan says.
"We were under a tremendous amount of pressure…We were told by many agencies that we would not be able to find buyers…Pontiac has shown it can be done."
Source: Shannon Morgan, senior vice president, Home Renewal Systems
Writer: Kim North Shine