Romney Family Home Demolished as Part of Detroit Rejuvenation Plan

The childhood home of former Massachusetts governor and 2008 Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney was torn down yesterday as part of a plan to demolish thousands of dilapidated homes in Detroit.

The Romneys lived in the 5,500-square-foot Palmer Woods home from 1941 to 1953. The former Romney home was located at 1860 Balmoral in what once was one of the city's most exclusive neighborhoods.

The home was seized by Wayne County from its current owners last year after it was declared a nuisance. A demolition permit for the home was also issued at that time.

Why would a home with such a grand history be destroyed?

The auto industry's implosion and the national recession have sparked a migration out of Detroit, leaving thousands of buildings and homes vacant. According to a recent survey, 33,000 homes are vacant across the city and another 50,000 are currently in foreclosure. The city's population could dip below 800,000 after the latest Census numbers are tabulated.

Because of this, Mayor Dave Bing has decided to rid the city of abandoned buildings as a way to keep property taxes up and residents in their homes.

"Blight is like a disease and will spread if not addressed," Bing said by e-mail to The Associated Press. "If the city begins to lose our tax base, then there goes the entire city."

Bing plans to tear down 3,000 homes this year and another 3,000 next year. By the end of his four-year term, he hopes to have demolished 10,000 buildings.

The former Romney home was neither vandalized nor an eyesore. It was located in a neighborhood in which annual property taxes typically are more than $10,000 and the median home sales price is $257,000.

Neighbors in the area say they were hoping the right buyers would come along who could afford the needed renovations and invest in the home. The current owners reportedly ran out of the money needed to finish fixing it up.

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