The other big outside investment that caught my eye last week (besides the Dearborn-to-Kalamazoo rail line) was the Living Cities funding. The Detroit News reported:
About $1.8 billion in public and private investment from 2000 to 2009 has been poured into the area… The DMC, Henry Ford Health System and Wayne State are already Detroit’s three largest private employers, with an estimated 30,000 combined workers in Midtown and New Center… “If Detroit is going to turn (around), it’s going to happen in Midtown,” said David Egner, president and CEO of the Hudson-Webber Foundations and executive director the New Economy Initiative for Southeast Michigan. That initiative includes a plan to attract 15,000 new, young talented Detroiters to live in the city’s core by 2015…. “We anticipate that the $4 million will be used for charter school financing, a housing/land trust and perhaps a healthy food initiative,” Mosey (president of the Cultural Center Association) said.
The Takeaway also covered this story nicely, interviewing Thomas Sugrue. Prof. Sugrue authored The Origins of the Urban Crisis, which was invaluable in helping me better understand the history leading up to the 1967 Detroit riots, particularly the intense white racism that helped cause them.
Anyway, Midtown is, in my opinion, the healthiest neighborhood in Detroit right now. There are residential neighborhoods that are also staying strong; Mexicantown and 7-Mile/Livernois also have healthy business districts. But Midtown seems to do mixed-use better than anywhere else in the city, integrating housing, commercial development, different races and ethnicities, nightlife and retail to a unique degree. And it’s one of the easiest parts of town to get by without a car. Out of staters have started to recognize this, most notably with the August 2010 New York Times profile of the unusual resilience of the real estate market in Midtown.
Detroit is likely to continue to lose population for the foreseeable future, but I suspect Midtown will continue to advance and thrive despite the travails of the rest of the city.