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A Call for a Land Value Tax in Detroit

A local opinion writer proposes a land value tax in Detroit to combat downtown parking lot proliferation by the Ilitch family and other local developers.
December 3, 2019, 7am PST | dwguenth
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Detroit News opinion contributor David Guenther, the founder of the Detroit: City Resurgent blog, writes of support for a land value property tax system to spur development in downtown Detroit. According to Guenther, developers have failed to deliver housing in a city struggling with gentrification, instead opting for parking lots. There has been widespread national attention paid to the Illitch family and their unwilingness and/or inability to follow-through on developing "The District Detroit," a large mixed-use plan that was advertised prior to receiving large public subsidy to construct a new Detroit Red Wings arena.

Mayor Mike Duggan has seemingly thrown his hands up on the matter, pleading that his absence in drawing up the contractual subsidy agreement obviates any personal responsibility and going as far as to say, “making them live up to their promise to build more housing downtown is not a priority.”

As a solution, Guenther proposes a land value tax, which would base taxes on what is allowable by the zoning code rather than what is actually built. In effect, this change would increase the property tax bill for parking lot owners, making underdeveloped lots untenable.

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Published on Wednesday, November 27, 2019 in The Detroit News
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