Bill Cheek

Bill Cheek at Detroit:

A Big Thanks! to Jerry, Mary, and Alex for hosting the event at Cafe con Leche at Lafayette Park last night, along with the great participants. It was informative, interesting, and provided some excellent new resources. The event also helped continue to focus our attention on solutions to the largest land use problem in the United States.

I am absolutely convinced that the progress and incredible effort of the LoveLand team over the past three years is a transformative event in the arc of Detroit's future. It has enabled anyone with ambition to visualize the scope of the problem, tackle land use projects, identify important social justice issues, or simply find a place for themselves in the Detroit community.

It also captures the absurdity of auctioning off 5% of the city every year and will be fundamental in changing the land use conversation.

Thanks guys, for your vision, commitment, and thoughtful action that is helping to accelerate the development of 21st century Detroit.

November 29, 2012
Bill Cheek at Detroit:

During the Lager House auction discussion groups, I think someone was speaking about paying the taxes on a property you don't own, then triggering the statutory interest meter that the homeowner would then have to pay you, including the taxes, instead of paying the county. This is somewhat like the pre-foreclosure days when you had a 1yr redemption right.

The question is: vacant house, deceased resident with no identifiable family. Can you pay the back taxes (prior to foreclosure), then make any claim to the house down the road? Foreclose on the tax deed privately to get the house?

October 22, 2012
Bill Cheek at Detroit:

For us noobs who may be bidding on a property for the first time, is there a general consensus regarding bidding strategy? Do you jump right in with the opening bid the first minute, wait for a while, or wait until the bitter end? If you launch early, does that create interest in a property you'd rather keep off the radar, or does late bidding generate more interest? Is there a late bidding frenzy, particularly among the competitive properties?

October 16, 2012
Bill Cheek at 3334 Cochrane:

A nice gut-rehab of this 2012 auction property currently underway. 2 bedrooms with a full basement. Good news for NoCo...

February 4, 2014
Bill Cheek at 213 Buffalo Avenue:

Just found an answer to this query: See the Daily News article that discusses this fascinating system. Ironically, some of the very same issues we have in the Motor City...

December 9, 2013
Bill Cheek at 213 Buffalo Avenue:

Interesting. Sold for $42 million in 2012 (see:, but the assessment only shows 914k? F'ing gorgeous mansion mashed between two public buildings. Oh my! is right, after you see the newspaper boxes and hot dog vendors on the corners out front. The view from 4 probably eases the pain a bit...

Score! 1st comment on WDWOT? NYC. Congrats to the LOVELAND team for this great addition to the family!

October 11, 2013
Bill Cheek at Detroit:

Time to check out the leader board!

Bidder 7091 has just purchased every auction property in North Corktown (including several expensive vacant lots), and hit several other areas hard. Has Bill Gates finally discovered Detroit? Is Andreas Apostolopoulos planning massively distributed underground popup retail connected by a series of tunnels throughout the city? Most important: will the funds actually arrive by 4pm Tuesday?

How will the first great auction mystery of 2013 end?!

September 23, 2013
Bill Cheek at 1540 Temple:

Hello new NoCo neighbor and winning bidder number 7091! You have just spent $7600 for a vacant lot. Congratulations!

September 23, 2013
Bill Cheek at 1824 Spruce:

Hello new NoCo neighbor and winning bidder number 7091! You have just spent $7600 for a burnt pile of rubble. Congratulations!

September 23, 2013
Bill Cheek at 3336 14th St:

Hello new NoCo neighbor and winning bidder number 7091! You have just spent $6400 for a vacant lot. Congratulations!

September 23, 2013
Bill Cheek at 3431 Mack:

Ugh, hate to see these. Mr. Shirlee's house in NoCo at 3031 17th was quite similar in style, but slowly melting down. Fortunately, he moved into senior housing before vandals torched the place to cinders earlier this summer. Incredible cedar siding and exterior heart pine trim. Disturbing to think about all the great material being fast tracked to the landfill with the recent infusion of money for accelerated demo.

September 3, 2013
Bill Cheek at 320 Horton:

September 3, 2013
Bill Cheek at 320 Horton:

September 3, 2013
Bill Cheek at 320 Horton:

Was through this house a while back and figured I'd post some photos. Needs everything, kitchen gutted, electric service scrapped, leaking in spots. Filled (and I mean filled-some rooms floor to ceiling) with many dumpsters full of junk, would be a good candidate for "Hoarders" tv show.

September 3, 2013
Bill Cheek at /users/1077:

Well, that solves that. Thanks Larry! Note that I'm not seeing the feedback replies with the questions, I only found your reply by loading the activity feed. Weird-apparently it's a firefox (20.0.1) issue (just me?), it works with IE.

May 9, 2013
Bill Cheek at 1835 Sycamore:

Hey Everyone! I stopped and spoke to the residents here during my foreclosure prevention project in NoCo. The story I was told is that the slumvestor owner, who apparently purchased the building in the tax auction 3 years ago, collected rent, never paid the taxes and it appears the building has been foreclosed. Have been attempting to contact a couple of the community housing groups for advice with no success.

Some of the issues the residents mentioned were leaks, electrical, and plumbing, certainly not unusual for a building of this age, but it's a nice looking building on a good street on the east side of NoCo.

My position is that the residents should cease paying rent IMMEDIATELY because Wayne County is the new owner, and at a minimum it will allow them to save some money to find a better place. Any suggestions regarding this course of action?

Ideally, the residents could pool their money and purchase the building themselves, but it also may be an opportunity for someone to pick up a building with residents and cash flow that could be an opportunity for a quality investor.

April 15, 2013
Bill Cheek at 3312 Harrison:

Incorrect photo. 3312 is actually the third house North of Ash as shown on the map above. The house in the photo above is at the corner of Ash and Harrison. Shows the correct house when you select the Google map link.

February 28, 2013
Bill Cheek at 256 Horton:

Did the slumvestor renege then Darin? I wonder if you could make a deal with the County, might be worth a shot contacting someone at the treasurer's office, or presumably the Detroit Land Bank who will be receiving the leftovers from the fall auction...

February 21, 2013
Bill Cheek at Bill Cheek's Pet Block:

Just stopped to check on and feed my Pet Block yesterday, however, it looks like it's going to be the site of the *NEW IMPROVED* customs plaza and border processing facility.

February 11, 2013
Bill Cheek at 2930 E Grand Blvd:

...and the individual fortunate enough to pony up the money to purchase an old service station will also then inherit the environmental liability that may run into the hundreds of thousands of dollars.

Anyone considering the purchase of any property in the city should do thorough research on its history and use, and be certain to look for potential site of contamination: former industrial, gas stations, dry cleaners, etc.. For example, the Metropolitan building was occupied by jewelers and had to have a remediation done to clean the building of radiation from the radium used in watches. Buyer beware!

January 31, 2013
Bill Cheek at /users/1077:

You nailed it Larry. Just caught that earlier and wanted to note it because launch day is tomorrow. Thanks!

January 24, 2013
Bill Cheek at /users/1077:

No hit on the forfeiture list. When you click on the bright yellow or burnt umber properties on the "Tax Distress" layer, it will show "delinquent" or "subject to foreclosure" respectively on the little popup window that shows the address. When you click thru to the property detail page (with the photo and property details), then select the "I want to pay my taxes online" link (REALLY AWESOME) and search by address, the WCT site matches what's shown on the popup.

Checked another couple properties in the neighborhood, both delinquent and subject to imminent foreclosure, but the same message: "This property is at risk of tax foreclosure. If late taxes are not addressed by March 31, 2013, it will be foreclosed and owned by Wayne County." appears on the property detail page regardless of extent of delinquency. This could really freak out people who owe 2011 or 2012 taxes and whose property won't go to foreclosure for another year or two.

Just a small detail to fix, but this new data layer will be INVALUABLE for neighborhoods who want to be proactive and help out their neighbors prior to d-day on 3.31 avoid both the substantial administrative fees and surprise pre/post-auction discoveries that they're being auctioned out of their property. Thanks to you all for this really important enhancement!

January 24, 2013
Bill Cheek at 0 Ecorse Rd:

Hmmmm, interesting. This has been bugging me for a few days, wondering what happened here. My guess is perhaps the map is incorrect? 30 mins left-somebody play lotto and buy it for $500 and see what happens.

October 26, 2012
Bill Cheek at 203 Erskine:

Citi, your predictive powers are truly awesome. Perhaps a WDWOT? psychic hotline for next year? Could be a real benefit to the community for planning purposes... Congrats to the bidders, hope you can play let's make a deal and save the building!

October 24, 2012
Bill Cheek at 3437 Cochrane:

*** FAIL! *** Well, neighbors-I took a stab at it. Tried to play beat the clock and missed my window after someone outbid my opener. Hopefully it's someone from the community that picked it up, as I'd hate to see it was just another auction troll slumvestor...

Cheers and good luck!

October 22, 2012
Bill Cheek at 203 Erskine:

Soooo, it's crazy to bid on these units, right? It's all about control, vision, energy, and potential. Let's assume nobody is going to bid, including the other owners. Pay $1500 for all 3, and you've bought 3 years to work out the details, challenge the assessments, put together the deals for the other units and move forward.

Crazy? Certainly. A guaranteed home run? This is Detroit-chances of success: low. An important historical and community project? Absolutely. Try to make a run at it if you want to work like hell and make a difference.

Ultimately, just looking at throwing $1500 away (if you can afford to throw $1500 away) isn't as bad as seeing the units turned into yet another vacant lot.

October 18, 2012
Bill Cheek at 318 E Milwaukee:

Just saw the comment regarding hexavalent chromium at 216/226 down the street, so I'd do some environmental research before committing...

October 16, 2012
Bill Cheek at 2737 W Vernor:

I was speaking to someone yesterday about it, so looked it over today. A bunch of tires, but looks solid (and ugly) I dig the old place next door. Precast concrete roof is a plus. As for the $50k estimate for close-up: sounds high to me. However, this is not a bootstrap project, but definitely worth a thorough look, and a pretty damn good location right next to the new construction and 555. Well, PDG as locations around challenged Detroit communities go...

October 13, 2012
Bill Cheek at 7640 La Salle Blvd:

Yep, still there. Really worth a cruise up LaSalle from the south. Absolutely gorgeous street with Boston-Edison style old mansions. Would love to get a look inside this place betcha much beautiful detail work-all burned up? Hope not...

October 12, 2012
Bill Cheek at 2825 Cochrane:

Yahtzee! Just rolled by a couple hours ago with the place all lit up with spooky halloween decor, so I'm stoked to hear that...

Anyone up for a crowdfunding project to get the remaining taxes current?

October 12, 2012
Bill Cheek at 2825 Cochrane:

Okay...I suspect this should ratchet up the conversation a couple notches. A few thoughts:

First, yes-we live in a capitalist democratic republic and everyone is free to bid on whatever property strikes their fancy. Yes, 2825 looks like a charming little house and is a good drive-by. Jerry and the Loveland team have put together a great community resource to add to the conversation about what to do with all the vacant properties in Detroit. We all clearly see the benefit and greatness of this effort.

Second- citi's comments regarding people asking others not to bid because they have a plan, particularly in this case-where those asking want to assist a sick resident stay in this house, are too cute by half. I applaud anyone who wants to make an altruistic effort to assist a struggling resident, or buy an empty property/lot and improve the built environment. This is the underlying philosophy of WDWOT?, creating a dialog by illustrating that we could purchase 2.5% of the Detroit land mass at this auction for $5 million and create the world's freshest land bank.

Finally- 'citibankmanhattan' is a charmingly ironic pseudonym, and I wish you well on your auction goals, as long as you are interested in actually improving the built environment and not just continuing the decades-long cycle of benign neglectful speculation and slumlording that exacerbates the death spiral. If that is the case, drawing attention to your activities and the expression of general contempt for those seeking to make a difference, particularly if you want to buy a house and kick the old, sick resident to the curb could potentially incite the ire of your new neighbors and lead to direct action. The type where your 'investment' is reduced to smoldering ruin.

I don't want to leave anyone the impression this is a threat, simply an observation that the community ideology underlying the effort to make Detroit better, one property at a time, is a valid and worthwhile effort and more refreshing than the 'every man for himself' ethos that pervades the investment class.

October 11, 2012
Bill Cheek at 7640 La Salle Blvd:

Happened to spy this on Curbed today. Is it still there? May be a deconstruction candidate, but the googlesat shows significant fire damage. Still, a great looking old house near boston-edison...

The article had a link to DetroitYes! on squatting, which may be gone:

October 11, 2012
Bill Cheek at 2825 Cochrane:

Hope that anyone planning to bid takes into consideration those that have expressed interest in saving the property for the benefit of the current resident. Such a charming little place, and it would be a travesty to see it spin out in a speculative death spiral.

October 11, 2012
Bill Cheek at 3834 W Grand River:

I would advise anyone interested in bidding to verify this info at Wayne County. It appears that the corner building is a match, and I googled a commercial listing showing the corner building at that address. A much better appearing structure than this turd that is likely destined for the wrecking ball, which would add value to the adjacent structures.

October 10, 2012
Bill Cheek at 203 Erskine:

The loss of Patterson Terrace would be yet another tragic loss to the Brush Park community. Note that the entire complex has been split into condos, and I think someone mentioned last week that the Kappas may own the others that are not at the auction. The unfortunate history of the Kappas benign neglect of other homes in the area (note the recent demo of 2 kappa houses nearby) could be the greatest impediment to any positive effort for change. But-never say never. My recollection is that the building was starting a renovation prior to the Republicans destroying the global economy, so there was some momentum.

Considering that foundation money, grants, and crowdfunding are being used around the city (Spaulding, in particular), be aware that it's an incredibly tough slog, but decidedly do-able if you have the iron will, engage the community, and make a long term commitment to see it through. Starting with a historic, significant property such as this makes a great starting point. Talk to the Kappas (or whoever the other owners are), see if you can start a dialogue, and go from there...or just buy them at the auction and move forward to see what happens next.

This property is worth making a try...

October 8, 2012
Bill Cheek at 3111 Trumbull:

As I mentioned last nite, I posted this property in an ad on Craigslist:
Any suggestions for improvements to the ad are welcome.

Was thinking I could include a link to this page to expand the conversation, but wanted to clear that with Jerry first.

Cross-posted to: NYC-Manhattan, Boston, San Francisco, and Chicago.

October 4, 2012

I haven't made any neighborhood drawings yet.