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Developer withdraws bid on 6,300 Detroit-area blighted properties

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[November 06, 2014]  By Serena Maria Daniels
 DETROIT (Reuters) - A developer has pulled out of a deal to acquire more than 6,300 Detroit-area properties in a county tax foreclosure auction a week after being declared the winning bidder, a county official said on Wednesday.

Texas-based Eco Solutions withdrew its bid with the Wayne County Treasurer's Office for the properties in the county and city of Detroit targeted for redevelopment, Wayne County Treasurer Ray Wojtowicz said in a statement.

Herb Strather, a Detroit real estate developer who is working with Eco Solutions, said last week his group intended to fix up some of the properties to help get low-income residents into homes and to turn over some vacant lots for community groups to develop.

Eco Solutions bid nearly $3.2 million in the October auction for the 6,365 properties grouped as a "blight bundle" by Wayne County and put down a nonrefundable 10 percent deposit.

Strather did not disclose why the bid was withdrawn.

Detroit is home to about 70,000 abandoned or blighted properties and Wayne County bundled the properties for the auction to discourage speculators that often win properties and fail to redevelop them.

Because of the withdrawal, ownership of the properties could eventually go to the Detroit Land Bank Authority in a process that could take months. Strather said his group was in discussions with the authority.

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Land Bank Authority spokesman Craig Fahle said Strather met with executive director Richard Wiener last week, but Fahle added that the authority was not negotiating with the group as it did not own the properties.

About 3,000 of the parcels are properties that are candidates for restoration, 2,000 are empty lots and 1,000 have buildings that must be razed, county officials said.

(Reporting by Serena Maria Daniels; Editing by David Bailey and Peter Cooney)

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