One of four illustrations for the New York Times by
We have wondered if the attraction of cheap real estate might lead to the revitalization of rust belt cities into greener, more self sufficient communities. Toby Barlow writes in the New York Times about his move to Detroit, (into a famous Miesian townhouse community) but also of others there who are rebuilding a neighbourhood, complete with local farming, solar heating and a mini-community solar electric grid, and more. They started with a house for under two thousand dollars.
Mies van der Rohe's Lafeyette Park, Detroit, built 1959
So what did $1,900 buy? The run-down bungalow had already been stripped of its appliances and wiring by the city’s voracious scrappers. But for Mitch that only added to its appeal, because he now had the opportunity to renovate it with solar heating, solar electricity and low-cost, high-efficiency appliances.
Buying that first house had a snowball effect. Almost immediately, Mitch and Gina bought two adjacent lots for even less and, with the help of friends and local youngsters, dug in a garden. Then they bought the house next door for $500, reselling it to a pair of local artists for a $50 profit. When they heard about the $100 place down the street, they called their friends Jon and Sarah.
Admittedly, the $100 home needed some work, a hole patched, some windows replaced. But Mitch plans to connect their home to his mini-green grid and a neighborhood is slowly coming together.
More of this uplifting story in the New York Times
More on housing in Detroit and the rust belt:
Detroit Charity Turns Wasteland into Farms
Kunstler on Peak Suburbia; Harpers Magazine on Detroit
Taking Back the City, One Building at a Time
Razing Buffalo: Why is This Happening?
Buffalo: Where the Urban Dream is Going Cheap
How Long Until The Rust Belt Becomes The Life Belt?