Detroit Has Loads of Positive Momentum, But Is it Enough?

Is Detroit’s recovery sustainable?

That’s a question I often ponder, and it came up again this morning as I waited for the bus and checked my Twitter feed from my phone.

You hear a lot of talk these days — including here on A Healthier Michigan and from yours truly — about a reinvigorated Detroit. There’s undeniably new life in the central city, momentum from businesses and entrepreneurs, and a general sense that people have redoubled their commitment to bootstrap the city from its long, nightmarish decline.

Thanks in part to relentless media coverage, Detroit is probably one of the hippest cities in the country right now for creatives and young professionals. Light rail (gasp!) may be inching its way toward reality after years of stalled efforts.

A recent story asked whether Detroit was the new Brooklyn, a city that has seen remarkable gentrification. Today on Morning Joe I even heard host Joe Scarborough mention the “rebirth of a city” while discussing the Tigers’ recent white-hot form.

But can we really call this a rebirth yet?

While some people insist on focusing only on the positives, Detroit is still a city weighed down with huge problems. In his tweet below, James Dickson pointed to schools as one of them. Crime and unemployment are two others, and I’d submit that the city’s massive underclass is the 800-pound gorilla in the room that rarely gets mentioned.

[blackbirdpie url=”!/JamesDDickson/status/114312653454852096″]

Don’t get me wrong: I’m rooting hard for Detroit, and I think anyone who cares about Michigan should, too. Michigan can’t thrive economically with a doughnut hole as its largest city. I believe in the city and try to do my part to support it and make it a better place.

But what do you think? I’d love to hear your thoughts about whether Detroit’s turnaround is real and lasting. Would you move here? What still needs to happen?

Photo by ifmuth.


Read 1 Comment

  1. Only time will tell if the recovery is sustainable, however I think that old canard of “wait until the hipsters have kids” is just that, an old canard.  What will help keep the momentum going is improving community policing, bringing down the cost/time to start a business in the city and a better strategy for dealing with vacant property.  There are plenty of good schools in the city, public and private, if people do enough looking.  

    I also think Urbanophile has an interesting take on this too.  Maybe we should focus on getting more “choice consumers” while we are trying to reform things.

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