Monday, December 31, 2007

Downtown development assessed

Two weeks ago the NY Times wrote a balanced assessment of the redevelopment of downtown Detroit: Detroit Revival Vies With Industry’s Decline.

The article highlights a number of positive recent developments: an expanded Detroit Institute of Arts, new casinos, the restoration of the historic Book Cadillac hotel, and the announcement that Quicken Loans will relocate downtown. These are set against the usual grim statistics: Detroit has the nation's highest poverty rate and the second-highest foreclosure rate; 100,000 automotive workers were laid off in the last two years; the city's population has shrunk in half; and some major development projects, like a proposed Motown Museum, have fallen through.

The question belying the article is whether true progress can be made in Detroit when "the automobile industry, its life force, is facing a further decline in 2008." That remains to be seen, as well as whether the neighborhoods of Detroit will ever benefit from the renewed city center.

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