Bankrupt or not, does Detroit, the Midwest bastion of both success and failure, have much more to offer than gloom and doom? While some of its neighborhoods have been in disarray and continue to crumble, and the battle over retirement for city workers will continue for some time, according to several YouTube videos and Websites, Detroit currently offers a burgeoning arts community, the best in professional sports, and mega entertainment venues that attract big name bands, comedians, and investors. The web is abuzz with much ado about Motown pride and hereoism.
If only Detroit could move forward and disconnect its high crime, mismanaged political oversight, and urban blight, according to many individuals, corporations, and stakeholders, Detroit is under appreciated. But before unveiling encouraging developments, the web offers other factors that have stood in Detroit’s way.
For example, crime is so rampant in Detroit, current Mayor Dave Bing (former NBA superstar and successful businessman), said, citizens have no respect for life (U.S. News, via NBCnews.com, 2013). There is no question that many Detroit residents feel unsafe and that unemployment (just under 10 percent) and drugs continue to plague any sign of a renaissance.
According to 2010 statistics aboard the United States Census Bureau Website, compared to its geographic size, Detroit is grossly unpopulated. An estimated 700,000 residents inhabit 138.75 square miles. Even if one could combine the square miles of Manhattan, San Francisco, and Boston, the total would add up to 20,000 square miles less than Detroit (markmaynard.com, 2009). What does that mean? Detroit is enormous! Something this big cannot be fixed overnight.
So Detroit has been working to right size by tearing down older dilapidated clusters of neighborhoods, and moving people to improving urban areas such as New Center and the downtown showcase with better city services, transportation, and breathtaking Detroit River and Windsor, Canada views (New York Times, 2010). Crime, drugs, corruption, and a massive sprawling infrastructure are undeniably Detroit’s nemeses. Then what of Detroit’s heroes? The Web is full of them!
According to Kid Rock, Ted Nugent, and Beyoncé, as recently as today, each has outspoken optimism for Detroit’s greatness (Billboard Magazine, 2013). Many suburban businesses continue to relocate into the heart of Detroit. Campbell Ewald, GM’s advertising partner is doing just that. And they have many positive things to say about their upcoming move (YouTube, 2013). Dan Gilbert, the self-made millionaire, and outspoken Detroit proponent and investor continues to poor millions into the city, a city with a gleaming set of office space, restaurants, and entertainment districts that rival any other major US city. And Mike Ilitch is investing more than just Little Ceaser’s pizza dough into Detroit.
Ilitch Holdings Company is putting up millions in private funding along with a Detroit city economic development fund to build a new Detroit Red Wings entertainment district, including a new stadium, hotels, and restaurants. This new entertainment district will be built near Detroit Tiger’s (Comerica Park) stadium that opened in 2000 and a new Detroit Lions (Ford Field) stadium that opened in 2002. And as recently as July 25th the State of Michigan said it had approved $450 million from a Michigan Strategic Fund to get the downtown project off the development table and into the ground.
Want to see a high impact, spot on production about the ongoing renovation of Detroit’s famous Cobo Hall? Look no further than here. This impressive preview of the Detroit River front gem makes even the most uninterested Detroit prospect ready for a visit. And lest we forget, a light rail system has been approved along Woodward Avenue to New Center (Michigan Future, Inc, 2013).
If these aren’t enough examples of heroism, than perhaps the Chinese are going to help recreate Detroit? China continues to invest in Detroit homes and other real estate and has been doing so for years (Benzinga.com, 2013; The Atlantic, 2013). Tom LaSorda and Roger Penske also continue to invest in Detroit development as well as Detroit based companies such as IncWell.
There is no question life is short. But for these Detroit heroes, perhaps their due diligence may pay off. Hopefully, Detroit residents, visitors, and a diversified suburban community of 4 million also will reap the benefits of a new Detroit. As Mitch Albom, legendary Detroit resident and writer says, broke or not, the city will carry on. Detroit is open for business.
And what of the many civic, religious, non-profits, residents, and watch dog group heroes also working to bring Detroit back? There’s too many to mention. Feel free to share your Detroit heroes here.