I had the opportunity (ha!) to spend a few days at my grandfather’s house in Detroit this week. He’s been dead for years, and the care of the property has fallen to me. The house is a two family brick structure with independent street numbers. Three bedrooms, a dining room, a living room and a kitchen on each level. Current assessed value, according to the city, is $24,000. Salable market value is less. Comparables in the area have been going the last couple of years for $10k. It’s near 7 mile and Woodward. Check it out on google maps. If, in the satellite imagery, you see a car parked on the street, odds are good that it’s worth more than most of the houses.
This is the next block over, last summer:
This is one of the worst neighborhoods, in one of the most blighted cities in the country. Unlike Flint, Detroit clings to life. A dense urban art and cultural scene has sprung up. In its defense, I did see a couple of police cars while I was there. That’s new. Also, the mayor is not currently indicted. That’s good too. Just a couple miles up the road, Royal Oak is flourishing.
I talked with a shopkeeper who sold me some truly awesome t-shirts. He commented that Detroit needs to turn from an “industry,” back into a “community.” I sorta like the image.
I have a tenant. She’s a member of a community of Catholic nuns – living a life of service in the city. I treasure the opportunity to interact with them, and to occasionally do something worthwhile for them. I treasure it so much that I can usually shut my eyes and not worry too much about the rent. This time, I was able to get a little basic home repair done. I fixed an electrical circuit – bringing the basement lights back online. As I was doing the work, I had strong flashes that the most immediate translation of “Lucifer” is “Light Bringer.” There I was, in some sort of urban hell, playing Prometheus to the clergy. You can’t make this stuff up.
In the evenings, I slept in the bed that was my mother’s when she was a little girl. In the summertime, with the windows open, I’ve heard gunfire through those windows. Out back is the tree under which my parents got married. This time of year, I shivered and turned up the space heater. The furnace for the upstairs unit is off for the duration – and I have no interest in the adventure of getting it fired up.
While I was doing my repairs, I realized that I needed a common electrical component. I had already been to the hardware store (a good 20 minute trip each way), so I went back into my grandfather’s little workshop, dug around in the drawer labeled “electrical, small.” I found what I needed and I got the lights on before I had to catch my plane. Thanks grandpa. He, at least, left a well organized mess for me to deal with. I guess it’s better than the alternative.
Life is an adventure, to be lived to the fullest. Don’t let anyone tell you different.