A Light, Open Letter To Bill McMachen In Macomb County
A couple days ago news came out that Macomb County, Michigan canceled it’s public tax foreclosure auction at the last minute and sold all 650 properties to private resident Bill McMachen for approximately $4.8 million — the cost of the total back taxes owed on all the properties. You can read about it here (first story on Fox 2), here (Fox 2 follow-up with video interview), and here (Curbed).
Since LOVELAND’s been working on maps and tools around neighboring Wayne County’s fall foreclosure auction — including open online fundraising to purchase properties that no one buys, and asking the public for input on what to do with them — it sounds like Bill might have an open mind and a situation on his hands where some of our work could be helpful, and vice verse as we learn about what’s happening here.
Hence…[drum roll]…an open letter!
My friends and I have a little Detroit-based venture called LOVELAND that does city mapping combined with different sorts of newfangled internet bells and whistles. We just mapped out all of your new properties on a site called Why Don’t We Own This, which you can see here: http://whydontweownthis.com/dragonfly/macomb (at the moment we only have 625, not the 650 reported, and are checking the difference, but you get the idea :-)).
At the top level you can clearly see the county, it’s cities, and where your new properties are clustered:
You can zoom down to particular cities, like Warren, which touches Detroit and has most of your new properties in it:
And then down to individual properties like this one, with a parcel map and street view imagery where that exists:
And then from there people who sign in can leave comments, ask questions, and generally discuss properties.
OK, so. I guess my most direct question is would you be interested in talking about how these tools can be customized to help you advertise, communicate with the public, and manage applications for the properties as you try to re-sell them to the best, most worthy buyers? We have a bunch of ideas and can stitch things together quickly.
I’m email@example.com or 908-343-1981 anytime if interested.
And now just a brief backstory:
Down here in Detroit, the county tax foreclosures and auctions are on another level. Where the whole of Macomb County had 625 properties, last year in Wayne County, Detroit alone had 13,050. Each auctioned for an opening bid of $500, and more than 7,000 did not sell.
Currently on the homepage of whydontweownthis.com you can see 34,300 properties in Wayne County that have been tagged for foreclosure and will likely show up at the fall auction if their owners don’t jump to pay their back taxes now. So the situation is still escalating.
We’ve been working on an idea called No Property Left Behind that would help neighborhoods collectively purchase auction properties that do not sell. It’s sort of the reverse of how things went down in Macomb: rather than taking everything off the table up front, there’s a plan in place to acquire what gets passed over at the end.
Anyway, enough typed words. Please give a shout if you want to talk about possibilities.
Thanks a lot, and good luck doing good,