Tuesday, January 20, 2009

urban renewal, the detroit way

News from my hometown:

Man says city of Detroit razed his fixer-upper


DETROIT (AP) — There are thousands of buildings that should be demolished in Detroit. Eric Roslonski says his house wasn't one of them.

Roslonski filed a lawsuit against the city Monday, more than two years after a house he was restoring suddenly was destroyed.

He said he put more than $30,000 into the property on the east side of Detroit after buying it for $7,000. One day in summer 2006, he couldn't find 13405 Flanders.

"I drove up and down the street three times — where is my house?" Roslonski said.

His lawyer, Jeffrey Dworin, said the house was taken off a demolition list, then apparently reinstated without Roslonski's knowledge.

"It happens," Dworin said.

A message seeking comment was left with the city's law department, which was closed for the Martin Luther King Jr. holiday Monday.

Roslonski is suing Detroit for his losses under a federal civil rights law. He fixed another house on the same street and sold it for $85,000.

"I see all these boarded-up and burned-out houses. I'm trying to make the city a better place," he said.

Abandoned homes in Detroit are sad either way. They look miserable, of course, but their destruction (usually to be replaced by nothing at all) entails the irrevocable extermination of pieces of civic and domestic history. This case - a foiled attempt to salvage, not destroy - is especially sad.

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