Open Letter to the Detroit Community


We are all aware that our neighborhoods are physically challenged, and some in more serious trouble than others.  We have thousands of beautiful, vacant, brick homes on the east and west side and with a little loving care and investment these homes can be put back into service.

The question is, Who will do it…?  Will it be: The CDC’s…?  The Block Clubs…?  The Churches…?  The Realtors…?  The Developers…?  The Retirees…?  The young Entrepreneurs...?  The Community members…?  The City of Detroit redevelopment agencies…?  OR will it be the outsiders…?  How about, the answer is US!  There is no one coming to save our community.  We will have to do this ourselves or the outsiders will take over and reap the upside.  The Mayor has done great setting up wonderful redevelopment programs, but we have to do the work.  So, will we get involved in redeveloping and taking back the “D” or will we sleep through this great metamorphosis?  By the year 2020, Detroit’s housing values will more than double and that community demographics will change dramatically.  How will existing Detroiters benefit from this tsunami?  The future is in our hands.  

Consider this:

  1. Detroit has the most attractive investment opportunities in the world.  We are now post-bankruptcy with a $100 million surplus on our balance sheet.

  2. We have a “Can Do” Mayor that has already demonstrated that he can deliver quality services and create attractive redevelopment programs.

  3. We have more than 20,000 young people clamoring to move Downtown, Midtown, Jefferson East and certain Detroit neighborhoods. 

  4. Rental rates are strong, but homes values are still depressed by at least 70%.  

  5. There is a huge demand for good quality housing stock and there are thousands of vacant houses in almost every neighborhood selling for huge discounts.

  6. There are an abundance of available unemployed laborers in every community.

  7. There are dozens of churches and CDC’s in every community.

  8. There are Detroiters with money in every community.  Detroiters has more millionaires than all the Grosse Pointes combined in addition to retired managers and executives with substantial retirement accounts.

  9. Detroit has about a dozen serious developers.

The developers could not possibly do this alone, so the Block Clubs, CDC’s and Churches have to step up, and not to mention, the Pastors should be developers by definition.  This is our inventory of community power.  The good news is that it is enough to make things happen.   After all, if one man can change downtown, the rest of us 500,000 adult citizens of Detroit can take care of the neighborhoods.

If we join together, we can overcome our challenges that will enable us to successfully develop our communities.

Ok, now some of you critics will say, “Herb, how about the problems?” So to that , I admit there are challenges of course and listed are a few obvious ones along with solutions that WE together can resolve:

  1. We have to put a stop to the scrappers and thieves who are destroying our communities.  Let us support Take Back the “D” at ….or any other program available to our city with a mission to fight crime in Detroit.   Take back the “D” is a non-profit organization developed for the purpose of Community Advocacy, wherein which we currently have an opportunity for the community to get involved via the Scrapper Reward Fund.  By this fund,  we the community will help Scrappers turn in dealers who do illegal business with scrappers and thieves.  

  2. There are the several lenders and appraisal management companies that have helped suppress our values.  We have an obligation to our children and the future of our community to sue them. Take back the “D” will address this matter as well.

  3. The high cost of insurance, which can be partially resolved by communities purchasing group or blanket policies or becoming self-insured with re-insurance for catastrophic losses. Block clubs can do this on their own communities now.

  4. The educational system is daunting but collectively we can resolve this. I believe it is a marketing issue because the quality is there; however, most parents believe Charter Schools are better.  Perhaps making all schools a Charter School is a beginning, even if DPS is the sponsor until they  can find a corporate sponsor to help teach and inspire students. The sponsors could even have sub-titles under the school name (i.e. CODY High School SPONSORED BY FORD MOTOR COMPANY).  I am sure many corporations would step up and help because they want better schools and a pipeline of good students (...and loyalty to them won’t hurt).


The question is:  Are you going to help restore the “D” by advocating or investing your time and resources; or observe the restoration of the “D”, or relocate?

My primary interest is the redevelopment of Detroit’s neighborhoods.  Therefore, those that are willing to help are in high demand, and it doesn’t matter where you live.   Those that live outside of Detroit (and drive foreign cars) can still help us.  

Many people are fully committed to Detroit and would not move under any circumstances.  But a commitment to live in the City without helping is not enough.  Everybody needs to help in some manner.

For those motivated by economics consider this.   Where else can you buy real estate for $15,000, invest $5,000 and sell for $50,000 or collect $850.00 monthly rent?  Where else can you acquire an apartment building fully leveraged for $1M that is worth $1.8M? or, purchase a mortgage from a homeowner approved to short their house and receive a 100% return legally.  These scenarios should be exciting to everybody, regardless of where in the world you live.

The bottom line:  Would you consider helping to redevelop Detroit regardless of your age, where you reside, or how much money you have?  If the answer is yes, then welcome to the “Good Fight”.  Please join me at


Herb Strather, Developer and Coach