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Motor City Mapping Task Force Takes Stock Of Blighted Buildings

DETROIT (WWJ) - Teams are hard at work across Detroit right now, taking stock of every blighted building in the city.

In the last month, the Detroit Blight Removal Task Force's "Motor City Mapping" survey teams have surveyed over half of the 380,217 buildings and vacant lots in Detroit.

WWJ's City Beat Reporter Vickie Thomas went behind the scenes with Sean Jackson for a look at the Motor City Mapping Mission Control in TechTown -- the place where every neighborhood is mapped out.

Jackson said teams of three are dispatched from the command center to document every property, not just blighted or abandoned buildings, to help ensure the most accurate database of Detroit property possible.

"We come here, get our tablets and assignments to learn where we're going to be going in the city, and then we send them out in cars. So, the cars are marked with Motor City Mapping on the top with a flashing light, and they go out into the city and they use an app to actually record in real time, pictures and information about the condition and occupancy of every home in the city of Detroit," he said.

The data gets sent to the quality control team where volunteers, like Kevin Erwin II, examine photos taken of each property.

"By taking a look at this, I can see that the window upstairs is broken, so natural elements can effect the home, so we need that to be boarded up," he said.

Jackson said the team, which includes 70 volunteers from Dan Gilbert Corp. and another 120 people hired out of the neighborhoods being surveyed, is making great progress.

"We're over one-third done. As of right now, and it changes every second, but we've got 158,430 parcels done, and we've got 221,785 remaining. And that actually won't add up to the right number because it just changed, even in the couple of seconds that I was just talking about it. This is real time. You can actually zoom in and even see the surveyors driving around," he said.

The goal of the project is develop a straightforward and detailed implementation plan to remove every blighted structure and clear every blighted vacant lot as quickly as possible using an environmentally-conscious approach.

Jackson said they hope to have everything wrapped up by the end of the month. To learn more about the task force, visit

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