In a city where the government recently decided to sell homes for as little as $1,000, there is only a single house for sale for more than $1 million. Its address is 97 Winder Street, not far from the two new stadiums where the Detroit Lions and Detroit Tigers play. This house is an ancient Victorian on the market for $2.5 million. Of course the big question is, who would ever buy it?
The house at 97 Winder Street was built in 1880. It has 11,000 square feet with 10 bedrooms, 11 full baths and one half-bath. It is currently operated as a bed and breakfast, according to Realtor.com. The real estate company that represents the owner markets it as a “once in a lifetime opportunity.” Not part of the listing is whether the home has decades-old plumbing and heating. Perhaps that can be traded off against its “old world craftsmanship and attention to detail.”
No other large city in America has only one house for sale for $2.5 million. In most large cities and wealthy suburbs, there are too many houses over this number to count. But residents continue to flee from this city, and with good reason. Detroit is struggling to emerge from Chapter 9. This city is huge — 138 square miles — which the police, fire department and emergency services, decimated by layoffs, cannot hope to patrol. Vast tracks of the city have only empty houses. At night, the only parts of Detroit that are reliably populated are the sports stadiums and casinos.
The only value of 97 Winder Street is its reminder to people of what Detroit once was, but will never be again. Detroit once was the home to dozens of men who made their fortunes in the car business.
The most expensive house in Detroit will not sell for $2.5 million, so the asking price doesn’t mean much. No one wants a house that is 134 years old located in the middle of a city that, unlike any other large city in America, is dying quickly.