FILE – In a Feb. 28, 2013 file photo, workers at Reclaim Detroit salvage wood that was taken from abandon homes in the city and making them useful for other projects, in Detroit. Reclaim Detroit, that gives new life to wood, doors and antique fixtures salvaged from deserted homes is getting its own revival. With no strings attached, Reclaim Detroit said it has received a $100,000 grant after a fire destroyed a workshop, tools and wood saved from more than 100 houses. (Mandi Wright/Detroit Free Press via AP)
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Reclaim Detroit operated at a large warehouse in Highland Park that was destroyed by fire in February. It hopes to open a new mill shop this summer, thanks to Open Road, which provided the largest grant. “Our ability to earn money was imperiled by the fire. … We lost a lot of antique doors and handles. We lost all of the circular saws, ladders, pickaxes. You name it, we lost it,” Dundon said. “Insurance didn’t cover all the losses. It’s extremely difficult for the insurance market to value salvage materials.”
Source: Detroit group that salvages homes is recovering after fire | The Merced Sun-Star
Reclaim Detroit workers salvage wood from an abandoned house on Elmhurst Street in Detroit, Michigan, U.S., on Wednesday, March 11, 2015. Bryan Mitchell/BloombergReclaim
“It’s like a treasure hunt,” said Craig Varterian, executive director of Reclaim Detroit, a nonprofit group that’s stripped and sold materials from almost 70 demolished homes. Floorboards and joists of early 20th century maple, walnut, hickory, fir and even chestnut are prized for their density and fine grain.
As Detroit ramps up demolitions of vacant dwellings, Mayor Mike Duggan plans a reclamation center in a city-owned building to keep tons of rubble out of landfills and create jobs and merchandise. Recycling would become a centerpiece of the city’s blight-removal effort, which is struggling to maintain funding.
Craig Varterian, executive director of Reclaim Detroit, walks down a hall lined with reclaimed doors at the organization’s office and warehouse in Detroit, Michigan, U.S., on Wednesday, March 11, 2015.
via Detroit’s 70,000 abandoned homes a treasure trove for rubble-sifting artisans: ‘It’s like a treasure hunt’ | Financial Post.
Reclaim Detroit crew member Tederio Bell, 29, of Detroit, left, carefully removes hardwood flooring as Jasonn, Parnell, 36, of Detroit and site supervisor pulls molding from a door frame from a house that was set for demolition. Reclaim Detroit salvages wood and other fixtures from homes.(Photo: Mandi Wright/Detroit Free Press)
“To me, that was it,” he said in an interview earlier this month. “Wood from a street where I used to play as a kid. This material, this wood they’re saving, it all has a story to tell. It’s so much a part of the city. That’s what I really liked about it.”
via Reclaim Detroit saving treasures found in city’s abandoned homes set for demolition.
Some 240 million board feet of reclaimable wood sits like buried treasure in the city’s blighted homes. Reclaim Detroit
An estimated 240 million board feet of the old lumber still props up the 78,506 dilapidated and abandoned homes that a task force has marked for teardown. All of that wood, if it’s in good enough condition, can sell for the same price—around $2 per foot—as new oak, cherry, and maple. And with reclaimed wood having a moment, 240 million board feet can make a lot of countertops.
via The Best Way to Help Detroit is by Tearing it Apart – Popular Mechanics.
Eliminating decay in Detroit is a monstrous undertaking, but if Reclaim Detroit and the Detroit Blight Removal Task Force do what they intend to do, things are about to change — for the better.
Nearly 80,000 abandoned buildings loom over the city. No mayor has ever been able to make much of a dent in Detroit’s vacant properties. But Kevyn Orr, the state-appointed emergency manager, has allocated $520 million to tackle blight over the next six years.
Demolishing a home in Detroit is relatively cheap, costing about $8-10,000, and many consider this as the best option. So why not quickly tear down every single home? Negative environmental impacts include spreading asbestos and lead poisoning, which can affect neighboring communities with hazardous dust.
That’s why Reclaim Detroit, which began in 2011, is applying their in-depth research to push for “deconstructing” 10 percent (about 8,000) or more of the city’s abandoned buildings. And according to Jeremy Haines, Reclaim Detroit’s sales and marketing manager, they’re creating more jobs for locals, as well.
via Deconstructing Detroit – Hour Detroit – May 2014 – Detroit, MI.
As architects we generally see ourselves as providers of new buildings; we also often see architecture as a way to remedy social ills. For many architects, when presented with a social problem, we try to think of a design for a building which addresses it. But what happens when the problem itself is a surplus of buildings?
The process of deconstruction provides more jobs than demolition, which means that the work of Reclaim Detroit is vital in a city with such high unemployment, as evidenced by their profile of one of their Deconstruction Specialists Billy Brown.
Both Recycle Detroit and Reclaim Detroit are initiatives that look at demolition and the contraction of Detroit in a different way. Where many see a symptom of decline and regression, they see demolition as a resource, which rather than being a wasteful way to remove the homes of people long gone, could be a way to benefit the lives of those still living in Detroit.
via The Sustainable Initiatives Deconstructing Detroit | ArchDaily.
The quality, look and feel of old construction materials — not to mention the stories these remnants tell of another era — are attracting the interest of entrepreneurs and others setting up shop in Detroit.
“It makes us feel much more connected to the city,” said Kevin Borsay, co-owner of the recently renovated Stella Good Coffee in the Fisher Building in Midtown. Borsay and his partners used 100-year-old wood from a home on Cadillac Boulevard for the coffee shop’s countertops.
“It’s like (having) a piece of Detroit history,” he said.
While not a new industry, the popularity of reclaimed wood and other materials from Detroit has spiked in the past few years, thanks to the creation of a nonprofit that makes them easily accessible.
Founded in 2011, Reclaim Detroit — a branch of the WARM Training Center, which promotes green jobs and sustainable housing — has dismantled about 15 homes in the city and Wayne County. The materials — from wood and bricks to doorknobs and windows — are stored in a 6,000-square-foot warehouse on Oakman Boulevard in Detroit.
The salvaged wood has been used in bars and restaurants in Midtown, Corktown and downtown. Companies from Birmingham, Ann Arbor, Woodhaven and other suburbs have bought materials, too.
Even billionaire businessman Dan Gilbert is pining for old Detroit wood. He tapped Reclaim Detroit for a project under construction at the Dime building — now called Chrysler House, said Bob Chapman, executive director of Reclaim Detroit.
Read the entire article via Reclaimed materials from old Detroit buildings finding new life | The Detroit News.
Reclaim Detroit is starting to make multiple visible impacts across the Motor City.
The deconstruction/recycling program run by the WARM Training Center finds a new use for just about all of the materials from buildings that would normally be razed and sent to a landfill. It used century-old wood recycled from a deconstructed home in Hamtramck to build out the interior of Great Lakes Coffee Roasting House in Midtown. Reclaim Detroit has been hired to renovate the Stella International Cafe in the Fisher Building in a similar way.
“It will use reclaimed materials but if will have our own unique style,” says Kevin Borsay, co-owner of Stella International Cafe. “Wood can have many different looks.”
Work has begun on the small coffee house in New Center and is expected to be wrapped up by October. Reclaim Detroit will use a wide variety of recycled building materials and unearth the space’s original terrazzo flooring.
“It’s going to look more modern, more design-centric,” Borsay says.
Stella International Cafe employs five people and plans to hire two more when it reopens in October. It is also looking at making some upgrades with Reclaim Detroit to its Guardian Building location in downtown.
via Stella Cafe hires Reclaim Detroit to revamp Fisher Building location.
Amazing and thoughtful piece by Green City Diaries
There is, however, reason to hope for the future. A host of recent decisions by small business owners, artisans and craftspeople, and even the administrators of large institutions suggests that, slowly and imperfectly, a fourth way of thinking about our historic buildings is burgeoning here. This diary entry is dedicated to sussing out and tentatively exploring this new ethic, which finds many expressions but is rooted in a commitment to finding sustainable solutions to the questions our old buildings persistently pose.
Don’t miss this via Green City Diaries: Reclaiming the built environment.
Reclaim Detroit is using deconstruction as a new way to help tackle Detroits blight problem, a solution that is also helping create jobs in the Motor City.
Reclaim Detroit launched out of the WARM Training Center last year focusing on deconstructing blighted buildings. So far the non-profit and its 18 employees have deconstructed three houses and has recently started on its four home.
“The more we do the better we get with it,” says James Willer, a manager at Reclaim Detroit. “Its amazing what we can get from all of these houses.”
via Reclaim Detroit turns home deconstruction into new jobs.