Detroit Land Bank rejects Heidelberg Project expansion

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  • Lee DeVito
  • The Heidelberg Project’s “Polka Dot House.”

Tyree Guyton, who grew up in a poor family with nine siblings in Detroit, was 32 when he decided to use art to combat blight, abandonment and violence that were consuming his east side neighborhood.

In the three decades since then, Guyton’s Heidelberg Project has transformed a two-block area into a world-renowned outdoor art installation that attracts 200,000 visitors a year from around the globe.

But once again, the Heidelberg Project has been stymied by its longest and fiercest critic — city hall.

Mayor Mike Duggan’s Detroit Land Bank, which owns more than 45,000 abandoned houses and empty lots, has twice rejected the Heidelberg Project’s proposal to buy nearly 40 pieces of vacant land to create a new artists’ community at its current location between Mt. Elliot, Elba, Ellery, and Heidelberg.

Heidelberg Project CEO Jenenne Whitfield says the Land Bank has offered no explanation for rejecting her two proposals, which are supported by City Councilwoman Mary Sheffield.

“With each new administration there is a new of hurdle to go…

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