In early April 2014, we purchased the house at 519 Harmon Detroit 48202 from the City of Detroit Planning and Development Department (PDD) from the ‘First-come-bid-sales’ list for $1000 (certified check) which we sent in the mail to Lisa Jackson, Senior Development Specialist at PDD. This was not a deposit, but rather a full payment, as PDD does not accept deposits.
Approximately a month later, she responded in writing that we were successful in the bid. We closed on the house on June 20, 2014, due to the fact that I was living/working in Benton Harbor/St. Joe, and Jon was living/working in Los Angeles, California.
From June 20 onward, I worked on the house, mostly cleaning and excavating the immense amount of debris and trash in the house and on the property. I met and befriended several of my neighbors on Harmon Street, including Burrell _____, Stacy _____, Charles _____, Tenisha and Andrew_____, and Major ______. I joined the parish at the Cathedral of the Blessed Sacrament (Msrg. LeFevre). I joined the Gateway Community Garden Club (Ava + Cindy). I contacted Detroit Police (Central Division) (Sgt. Irvin + Officer Homic) to remove the ‘stolen’ car from my garage (which they did on July 21). I paid Major over $200 total to help work at house with me. I brought to the house and kept there approximately $400 worth of tools and implements to work on the house, yard, and garage. These were all destroyed by the demo crew.
On Friday July 18, Lawrence Jackson, a B-SEED inspector showed up to place an orange sticker on the adjacent house, (513 Harmon), now just a burned shell and blighted foundation from a fire the previous year. I had contacted Councilwoman Mary Sheffield’s office to ask for help in getting this house fully demolished. They responded quickly and Mr. Jackson was the result. However, in inspecting 513 Harmon, he also ‘tagged’ my house at 519 Harmon to be on the ‘Dangerous and Condemned’ list. I asked him to not do this, but he responded that ‘they won’t tear your house down because you are working on it.’ He also explained that demo was a long process, and I would receive a letter, which I never did.
When I went to the Coleman A. Young Municipal Center that next week (July 22) to get some answers, I found that not only was my house on the Dangerous list, but also had been on the Demo list since March 13, 2014. In other words, PDD sold me a house that was already Ordered to be demolished. This was confirmed by Helen Broughton on B-SEED, and by Dilip Patel in the Demo Office.
I then went over to PDD to try to see Lisa Jackson; she would not see me (nor answer her phone). However, Ms. ___ Mahone did see me and just said to write a letter to Ms. Jackson asking to cancel the sale and to get my money back. Which I did on July 23. I also went to the Land Bank office to find out if they had ordered the demo, because PDD claimed they had no knowledge of it nor access to the same database that B-SEED has. Land Bank staff (Mr. Brown, Mr. Troung) told me that PDD did not even own the house at the time of sale; Land Bank did, making the lawfulness of the sale even more problematic.
Up to that point I still had not received the Deed to the property, even though we had closed a month before, and I had paid $18 recording fees. Up to now I have not received my $1018.00 back.
On Aug. 1, 2014, the house was torn down; incompletely, however, as the foundation and all debris remain, as well as access to the basement, making it a more dangerous site than before. [As of Aug. 6, the house is now just a dirt pit, demo it ‘complete’ — thanks for that, man.] Here is the before an after looking from the alley + open garage doors toward the street, the garage is gone:
Since Aug. 4, I have been in contact with DeAndre Calvert of Councilwoman Mary Sheffield’s office – I have told him the whole story and he is trying to advocate for me – trying to find out what happened. I have also contacted the Land Bank but you can only leave a message. I have also tried calling Lisa Jackson but no answer. I have also contacted Charlie LeDuff and Fox 2 News Problem Solvers. I have done a little research as well; it seems that there is a similar case from 2008 (Appellate Court) regarding a sketchy demo and due process (see attached + link below), although that case didn’t end in favor of plaintiff.