DETROIT—As community leaders and members of the press looked on, Detroit mayor David Bing proudly hurled the first brick this week in a window-shattering ceremony for the city's newest dilapidated slum.
The result of three years of construction work and more than $24,000 in public funds, the rat-infested and crime-ridden development was unveiled to the public on Tuesday.
"It is my great honor to introduce to you the brand new Baneberry Heights," announced Bing, gesturing to the ramshackle subdivision behind him. "Filthy, dangerous, filled with violence and blight: It's all here, and it's all completely falling apart."
"This is what the people of Detroit have been waiting for," Bing continued before walking to a nearby trash can, setting its contents on fire, and heaving the flaming receptacle through a corner storefront. "Baneberry Heights is a nightmare come true."
Lined with flickering streetlamps, and conveniently located within walking distance of several abandoned Chevrolet plants, the new slum reportedly offers residents the latest in high-risk, hopelessly impoverished housing options. According to city officials, the fully modern ghetto is made up of 10 main tenement buildings, each featuring a wide range of amenities, including rusted-through sinks, substandard heating, and colonies of cockroaches in every room.
"Baneberry Heights has the very worst that money can buy," said slum developer Harold Pitts, adding that each one-bedroom apartment can accommodate desperate families of six or more. "Whether it's darkened and dead-end alleyways, or parks littered with used hypodermic needles, we've thought it all through. Every horrifying detail is in its place."
Designed as an urban community where parents will be too afraid to let children out of their sight, and where residents can come together, get involved in dangerous gangs, and eventually hold up a liquor store, Baneberry Heights is Detroit's largest housing initiative in nearly a decade.
Many have hailed the new slum as a boon for the struggling city, saying it will provide appallingly unsafe housing for 4,000 residents and, by summer's end, cold and bleak street corners for more than 2,000 homeless citizens.
"This is why I became a politician—to help out the people of Detroit," said urban development secretary Robert Sturges, who also christened the new slum by urinating on its entranceway. "Being able to say that I had a hand in getting this squalid hellscape of concrete and steel off the ground…well, it's all the thanks I need."
According to official plans, Baneberry Heights will offer residents a number of perks beyond the standard dignity-free accommodations. Within the year, a grossly out-of-date elementary school—complete with zero computer labs, inattentive teachers, and asbestos in the walls—will be completed. In addition, a new shuttered strip mall will be erected on the edge of the slum, allowing for a deserted hub where prostitution and other illicit activities can flower.
Crews are also putting the finishing touches on an outdated, leaky gas main scheduled to explode next spring.
"The whirring of police sirens, the stench of rising smoke, screams from a domestic dispute spilling out into the night—I can imagine it already," said Detroit city planner Paul Mitchelson. "This is going to be the slum to try and escape from for years to come."
Public reaction to Baneberry Estates has so far been mixed. While some Motor City natives have already started pawning prized possessions and old family heirlooms in order to move into the decrepit development, others seem less convinced.
"As far as giant 'fuck-yous' from the city go, I'm a little underwhelmed," said Danica Michaels, a single mother of four young children. "This is nothing compared to the giant interstate they built through my neighborhood last year."