Mayor names LaJuan Counts to lead demolition program as it transitions back to full city oversight

  • Counts has deep experience in construction management and contractor management
  • Has been with City for 23 years, most recently as Director of General Services Department

 

Mayor Mike Duggan announced today he has appointed LaJuan Counts to lead the city’s new demolition department as the demolition program prepares to fully transition back to city control.  With the last of the $263 million in Federal Hardest Hit Funds being spent, administration of the demolition program will shift fully from the Detroit Land Bank and Detroit Building Authority to be under full authority and oversight of city government for the first time in six years. 

Counts, a resident of the Grandmont Rosedale neighborhood, previously served as the Director of the city’s General Services Department, overseeing a staff of more than 750 employees across several divisions including park development, facilities maintenance, forestry, the city’s vehicle fleet, landscape design and project management.  Counts was elevated to the position of GSD director in October after serving three years as Deputy Director. She brings with her to her new position years of experience in construction management and contractor management.  At GSD, Count oversaw capital improvements made to more than 100 city parks, the redevelopment Kemeny Recreation Center and the city’s now-completed effort to board up nearly 20,000 vacant structures across the city, among other significant projects. 

“LaJuan is an exceptionally talented project manager and we will be looking to her to lead the effort to bring the demolition program fully under the direction of the city, and full oversight of City Council,” said Mayor Mike Duggan.  “We are fortunate to have someone of her deep experience and managerial ability already on our team to help us reset the demolition program and make the transition as smooth and effective as possible.”

The timeline for the program to transition fully to the city is July 1. Over the next several months, Counts will be assessing current operations of the demolition program to determine staffing needs and develop a new organizational structure.  She also will develop a proposed budget for the new city department to present to City Council.

Counts spent the first 20 years of her career – from 1994 to 2013 – exclusively in the field of construction and contractor management with the City and previously with the Detroit Housing Commission and M. George Construction Company. Because of her talent and work ethic, she rose steadily through the ranks of GSD, also having served as Construction Project Coordinator and Superintendent of Building Maintenance before becoming Deputy Director in 2016. 

Throughout her career, Counts has established relationships of respect and trust with Department Directors across city government, members of City Council and contractors. 

Once the department is fully established in July, Counts will be tasked with improving the process to ensure all demolitions are conducted safely and cost effectively and for working with the city’s procurement office to ensure that Detroiters and Detroit based companies are being provided additional opportunities for work in the demolition program.  She also will oversee the implementation of several commitments made to City Council by the administration, including regular detailed reporting to Councilmembers on the progress of the demolition program and piloting a “deconstruction” program of some properties to determine if salvaging some materials from these homes can be feasible on a larger scale.

Counts, whose salary will be $150,000, begins her new position on January 27th

Brad Dick, who previously served as GSD Director and now serves as Group Executive for Services and Infrastructure, will resume the duties of GSD Director on an interim basis until a replacement for Counts is identified.