Second, eliminate some public services to parts of the city. In those parts of town overtaken by vacancies and empty lots, it might make sense to incentivize residents to relocate to other, more vibrant neighborhoods. If they chose to remain on otherwise empty blocks, then they’ll have to make do without city services. Reportedly, seven neighborhoods would merit the city’s full resources. It’s a radical idea, but some think it could work.
And third, reshape the city by razing buildings and creating urban parks and farmland. Many cities worldwide have working farms within city limits. Community gardening can have a transformative impact on entire neighborhoods, provided the city can control levels of ground toxicity.
To design Bing’s “newish” city, he brought in a star urban planner, Toni Griffin, and set her up in a city hall office. Griffin is credited with rebuilding Newark, New Jersey’s planning office, which won an important award for its work on sustainable infill housing guidelines.
According to Griffin, Detroit’s population decline translates to 40 square miles of unused land in a city of some 139 square miles. The city’s infrastructure, she noted, is too large for its current population.
Griffin told a reporter that “it is imperative that we get to a redesign of the city that the government can support. The government can’t continue to maintain an infrastructure meant for more than twice the present population.”
One argument against bulldozing is that it could cede large tracts of land to gangs and homeless people. It also could cost lives, especially when health emergencies arise and there are no ambulances within easy reach.