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Long-awaited home demolitions will turn blighted Detroit neighborhoods into blank canvas

As part of its plan to climb out of bankruptcy, Detroit plans to tear down as many as 450 empty houses each week across a rotting urban landscape nearly the size of Manhattan.

The huge demolition project holds the potential to transform large parts of the city into an urban-redevelopment laboratory like the nation has never seen. Unlike other cities where building space is almost always limited, Detroit will offer urban planners a rare chance to experiment with wide-open land.

Neighborhood advocates are talking excitedly about creating urban gardens, farms, forests and other types of "green space."

Community leaders in Detroit and in other cities that have attempted similar transformations say the best efforts could still wither from lack of money, lack of commitment or harsh economic realities.

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