Earlier this week, real estate developer Herb Strather withdrew his offer to buy a bundle of more than 6,000 blighted properties in Detroit for slightly more than $3.1 million, Wayne County officials announced.
Wayne County officials confirmed through discussions with John Page of Eco Solutions, the registered bidder and Strather's partner in the deal, earlier this week that the offer had been withdrawn.
Strather had been meeting with county officials on a developing plan for the properties, but the two parties were unable to come to an agreement. Strather had reportedly hoped to receive federal funding from the Detroit land bank to demolish the worst properties in the bundle while keeping the best properties for his own investment purposes, but that plan fell through when it was discovered the land bank would pay to demolish only those properties it owns and would not do so for the profit of private investors.
The bid placed by Strather and Eco Solutions was the only one placed in the auction. Strather's 10 percent down payment was refunded. With no winner in the auction, the properties will go to the city, which will subsequently transfer them to the land bank within a few weeks.
Even though the offer has been withdrawn, Strather is not giving up. He has reportedly said he still hopes to negotiate a deal with the land bank by the end of the month to develop the blighted properties. The bundle includes residential units, vacant lots, and commercial properties.
“The development of this package of properties was unique and we appreciate the interest expressed by Eco Solutions, John Page, and Herb Strather," Wayne County Treasurer Ray Wojtowicz said in a prepared statement. "While we were not able to reach an agreement as to a development agreement, we do look forward to continued participation by Eco Solutions as we work with (Detroit) Mayor (Mike) Duggan to address blight in our neighborhoods. Blight elimination is essential to improve conditions in our communities."
Strather surprised everyone by bidding $3.1 million for the 6,365 blighted properties in the week prior to the October 28 county foreclosure auction. The bid was placed anonymously. It was believed that no one would bid on the properties because of the enormous expense it would take to develop them.