Southwest Detroit Residents to Benefit

By Renee Summers, Telegram Reporter 

On December 17, Marathon Petroleum Corporation (MPC) announced its offer to purchase residential properties in southwest Detroit. MPC plans to spend $5 million on the purchase program focusing on homes closest to I-75 on Edsel and South Patricia Streets, in the Boynton Neighborhood. In addition, MPC is negotiating with the City of Detroit Land Bank Authority (DLBA) to purchase 38 abandoned homes and 140 vacant lotsin the neighborhood owned by the DLBA, which are in the area east of I-75 and north of Schaefer. The area is heavily surrounded by industry and lies within Detroit’s 48217 zip code, which has been deemed by both researchers and elected officials as the state’s most polluted zip code. 

“I think it’s a great proposal and it’s more than purchasing homes,” said State House Representative, Tyrone Carter (6th Dist.). “Phase one is really for the safety and beautification of the community.” 

MPC’s goal is to create a green space to serve as a buffer between residents and their industrial neighbors. Abandoned and blighted homes will be demolished. “We take great pride in being part of southwest Detroit, and we are committed to continuing our partnership with the community to improve the quality of life here,” said Dave Leaver, general manager of MPC’s Detroit refinery. “We are happy to make this property purchase option available; our intent is to work with residents in the target area to secure property and create green space at the north end of the neighborhood.” MPC’s contributions to the neighborhood include a $2 million contribution to the renovation of the Kemeny Recreation Center and ongoing support to organizations in the area including La Sed, Starfish Family Services and the Fort Street Bridge Park Project. 

Carter applauds MPC’s initiative. “Where the city can’t knock down houses, they’re going to eliminate blight…they’re going to maintain the grass, they’re going to create a buffer, so for the people that want to stay, it’ll be a nicer, cleaner neighborhood, and the ones that want to leave, this gives them options,” he said. 

The Property Purchase Program is strictly voluntary and will enable those eligible residents who wish to relocate to do so while residents who choose to stay will enjoy more open space. MPC has contracted with the real estate consulting firm Community Interaction Consulting (CIC) to guide residents and handle purchases. CIC will establish an information office in the neighborhood in January. Those interested in participating in the program may begin the process on February 1, 2021. 

“Residents have experienced respiratory illness, cancer, and foul odors as they suffer from the pollution in the area,” said U.S. Congresswoman Rashida Tlaib (Dist. 13), who urges residents to seek out legal guidance before fully participating in the program. “Residents have a right to be skeptical of Marathon and I am meeting soon with Marathon to learn more about their plans. I am encouraging all residents considering the program to seek legal assistance, and my office can provide information about free legal consultation.” 

Carter says MPC’s program is an example of the company’s efforts to work with the community surrounding it and creates a model for other large corporations along with their host communities to follow when pursuing outreach and consensus within that community. Carter adds that it is important for large corporations to remain compliant with local regulations. “It’s about holding our neighbors accountable, but also being good neighbors with our neighbors.” 

Contact Congresswoman Tlaib at www.tlaib.house.gov. To contact State Rep. Tyrone Carter, go to www.tyronecarter@house.mi.gov.