One house at a time. One block at a time. One neighborhood at a time.
That’s the Tuxedo Project’s approach, and it begins with the house at 7122 Tuxedo, where founder Stephen Henderson’s family lived when he was born.
But it stretches beyond, to the 16 other blighted properties on the block and, ultimately, to the surrounding neighborhood, where more than 150 homes are abandoned and sliding into decay.
The Tuxedo Project is determined to turn blighted properties back to productive use - with a focus on improving properties but maintaining residency for current occupants, whether they're owners or renters.
It's neighborhood stabilization that's people-centered, and designed to lift the community.
In 2017, the Tuxedo Project made progress on three of the 17 troubled properties on the 7100 block of Tuxedo.
The transformation of 7122 Tuxedo, from the blighted childhood home of Tuxedo Project founder Stephen Henderson to a writer's residence and literary center, unfolded over eight months in 2017.
It began with a mess - no windows or doors on an empty shell, stripped of all its innards.
Clean up was first, then restoration of the mechanicals (plumbing, electric) and replacement of the doors and windows.
The finished product retained much of the character of the original 1923 construction, but added important updates like central heating and cooling.
There was just one thing of emotional significance preserved from Stephen Henderson's early years in the house: the remains of a Disney sticker his mother, Elaine Beckham, put on the closet door in his bedroom, in 1970.
Just down the block from 7122, a row of three abandoned houses sits like a blighted anchor on the neighborhood.
All three have been empty for years, and are technically on the city's demolition list. But there has not been money, or urgency, to tear them down in part because they sit apart from other houses on the block.
In September of 2017, though, the Tuxedo Project worked with the City of Detroit to declare 7208 Tuxedo, the middle house of the three, an emergency. It had burned at some point, and its structure had come undone to the point where the stairs had collapsed and the floors jutted up and down like those in a funhouse.
The day it came down was a celebration for the neighborhood. Residents came out to watch the excavators and bulldozers take another step toward stabilization of the block.
One house at a time. That's the only way to make progress.