Ex-Detroit emergency manager Kevyn Orr: Bankruptcy process start, not end, of city's recovery

Associated Press

The city's successful exit from the largest municipal bankruptcy in U.S. history doesn't mean Detroit's troubles are over, its former fiscal overseer told area business leaders Tuesday.

Mayor Mike Duggan and the City Council have resources, but the work of moving Detroit forward continues, Kevyn Orr said at a Detroit Economic Club event.

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"People think bankruptcy is the end," he added. "It's not the end, it's the start."

Orr, who stepped down as Detroit's manager in December, was named this month by New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie as special counsel to Atlantic City's emergency manager.

He had been hired by Michigan Gov. Rick Snyder in March 2013 and filed Detroit's bankruptcy petition that July as an effort to overcome decades of population loss, a chronic loss of tax revenue and piles of debt.

Detroit emerged from bankruptcy in December and is currently is operating under his plan to shed or restructure about $7 billion in debt.

While reinvestment continues downtown and in Detroit's Midtown neighborhood, many other parts of the city are still struggling.

"Downton is going to look really, really nice," Orr said. "But you've got another 130 miles of city ... neighborhoods. It's not changed. That's a long-term process and we can't forget there's another city out there."

Duggan — using mostly federal funds — has started an ambitious blight removal program that includes the mass demolition of vacant houses. The city also is auctioning off salvageable homes through its land bank.

Noting that Atlantic City is smaller than Detroit, Orr said that city's problems "are manageable."