"Detroit is gonna come back"; contractors get started on next wave of demolitions

He's was an insurance man, he ran a UPS store, and he ran for public office. But today, Curtis Johnson is wearing a highlight-yellow construction coat, a cowboy hat and is ready to knock down some houses.

"I'm a Detroit-based contractor. I grew up here, PSL-educated, just had a grandbaby," said Johnson. "and now I can say to my grandbaby with conviction 'papa was out here doing his thing, making sure the city of Detroit is gonna come back.'"

Johnson is one of several local contractors tasked with the next phase of Detroit's blight removal. And he's excited.

"I know Cherrylawn, I know Northlawn, I know Noble, I know Drew, I know Mackenzie, I know Cooley, I knew all those high schools," he said. "So 650,000 people - used to be millions of people here. We need to bring this thing back and we need to do this thing together."

Johnson will help tear down about 350 homes. A total of 1,380 homes will be going down under the $30 million Proposal N that was approved by the City Council last year. 

Stipulations under the mayor's new push to root out blight required that 51% of the companies that performed the work be done by a Detroit-based workforce. All seven companies that won bids are also from the city.

1,380 homes in Detroit are slated for demolition under the city's new $30 million plan

Another 300 homes are also expected to be preserved for future use.

Detroit has gained more autonomy under its demolition program since being released from federal control. Previous rules limited demolition to certain areas of the city that were based on the density of occupied homes in the area.

Under the new measure, the city will be conducting demolitions in more neighborhoods. To prioritize where its impact will be felt the most, it's following criteria that look for how many occupied homes are adjacent to blighted homes.

The first wave of demolitions was announced in mid-January.