Downtown Detroit is rapidly transforming into a popular, walkable urban center that is attracting residents, businesses and investment.
Recently, CNN Money asked 13 locals why they stay in Detroit and to reveal their favorite treasures of the Motor City. The answers varied from loving the creative and entrepreneurial potential of the city to its music scene and to its alternative land use.
With a population just under 714,000 it is the largest city in Michigan and was ranked the 18th most populous city in the United States. In the last decade, while the overall population declined, there has been a 59 percent increase in the number of college-educated residents under 35 who have moved into the city.
Neighborhoods in Detroit are diverse and architecturally interesting. The revitalized Corktown, Downtown, Midtown and New Center areas feature many historic buildings and are high density. Some of the oldest neighborhoods are in the Woodward and East Jefferson corridors, West Canfield and Brush Park. All have multi-million dollar restorations and construction of new homes and condominiums. Lafayette Park, a revitalized neighborhood is part of the Ludwig Mies van der Rohe residential district. (Link to neighborhood descriptions elsewhere on the site.)
Detroit is also one of the only cities in the United States where you can look across a river and see another country. Just south of the city is Windsor, Ontario. This is the only place along the long shared border where Canada is south of the United States. The Detroit RiverFront Conservancy has partially completed three and one-half mile riverfront promenade with a combination of parks, residential buildings, and commercial areas. Members of the Riverfront Canine Club can be seen walking their dogs along the river on Sundays.
There is substantial activity in urban design, historic preservation and architecture. There are a number of downtown redevelopment projects:
- Campus Martius Park is one of the most notable. The park is located at the intersection of Woodward Avenue and Michigan Avenue and across from the new Compuware Headquarters. It includes two stages, sculptures, public spaces and a seasonal ice skating rink as well as Fountain Bistro.
- Compuware Corporation has turned a vacant lot on W. Lafayette and Shelby into Lafayette Greens, an urban garden and relaxing green space in Downtown that serves as a center for anyone who wants to learn about organic gardening. Produce from Lafayette Greens benefits Gleaners, the Detroit-based food bank.
- The renovation of the David Broderick Tower is under construction with 75 workers on the job. It will be a multi-use space with apartments, retail and entertainment. Best of all, it has a fantastic view of Comerica Park’s center field.
- The Daniel Burnham-designed David Whitney Building is being renovated and, along with the Broderick, will be the northern gateway to the central business district. It will feature moderately priced rental apartments, a national boutique hotel and a four-star restaurant.
- Quicken Loans has purchased the Madison Building and will convert it into a vibrant space for local entrepreneurs. It also bought the Chase Tower and will bring an additional 2,000 additional team members downtown.
- The Detroit RiverFront Conservancy expects to connect the RiverWalk and its associated green spaces, plaza and parks in the fall of 2011.
- The M-1 Rail is officially underway now that the Environmental Impact Statement has been submitted to Washington, DC. In five short years we should all be taking the train.