Detroit Is Selling Fire Stations to Raise Cash

The financially distressed city is looking to sell fire houses and a police facility that are no longer being used.

Posted: 05/08/2013 01:48 PM EDT

Reflecting the depth of the financial crisis in Detroit, the city is planning to sell seven unused fire stations and a vacant police facility.

The sale is an attempt to bring in additional cash to a city that is coping with huge deficits. The administration of Detroit Mayor Dave Bing said he is hoping that the sale and possible development of the buildings with help spur developers to use them in new and creative ways.

The city sent out requests for proposals for potential purchasers of the fire stations last week and will accept bids through May 24.

"The ultimate bid winners are going to be those who come up with the best ideas," said Brad Dick, director of the city’s General Services Department, the agency that handles the city's building maintenance, property and vehicle management and upkeep of properties, including parks. "We want something that fits today's Detroit, something cool and different."

Many of the fire stations have been closed in recent years. The police facility was renovated several years ago but has remained vacant for a number of years. In the last decade, the city has consistently closed fire stations as a result of the decline in Detroit’s population.

Detroit has been struggling with its finances for decades. But the problems have only become more ominous in the last few years. The city, whose population has dropped from nearly 2 million 60 years ago to slightly more than 700,000 now, is confronting more than $14 billion in long-term debt and frequent shortfalls.

In March, the governor of Michigan, Rick Snyder, appointed an emergency financial manager for the city of Detroit, a position that carries near-complete control of the city’s financial operations. The manager, Kevyn Orr, is an attorney with a law firm in Washington.

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(Photo: J.D. Pooley/Getty Images)

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