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Business, people are invested and vested in Detroit

It’s done. It was hard, but the parties came together and there is a consent agreement aimed at getting Detroit back on the right financial path. It will be very difficult work. The reported annual operating deficit is about $270 million and there’s more than $10 billion in total debt and unfunded liabilities. Still, given the investment we’ve already seen in downtown, we know there is a passion and commitment to revitalize the city and there will be a lot of support.

Photo by Karpov the Wrecked Train

Downtown Detroit has undergone a massive transformation and is meeting challenges and reinventing itself for the 21st century. Some of the city’s neighborhoods are showing growth. Major employers are reinvesting in the city by encouraging employees to move downtown and live where they work and by adding new office space. The artist community is growing. More unique restaurants are opening. More people, especially recent college graduates, are moving to the city.

Following are a few examples. For a more complete fact sheet click here.

  • Projects managed or assisted by DEGC through its staff work for public authorities, or its other initiatives in 2011 are expected to lead to $645 million in private and public investment in the city of Detroit when they are completed, generating new or saving 8,000 jobs in the city.
  • Blue Cross Blue Shield of Michigan continues to invest in Michigan’s core cities, which includes a move of 3,000 employees from suburban locations to downtown Detroit. Upon completion of the project in June 2012, BCBSM will have more than 6,000 in Detroit’s central business district, making the organization the largest private employer in this area of the city. The move increases the Renaissance Center’s occupancy rate to 92 percent and reduces the amount of vacant Class A office space in the central business district by 6 percent. BCBSM will occupy 21 floors of Tower 500 and a significant portion (Floors 3 to 10) of Tower 60 … together about 436,000 square feet of space.
  • Since 2010 Quicken Loans has acquired almost a dozen buildings Downtown. These buildings are getting dramatic makeovers, with new first-floor retail and modern signage. The goal is to attract additional new businesses and retailers to the heart of Downtown. The moves will bring nearly 5,000 Quicken Loans team members Downtown.
  • Comerica recently completed the $17 million renovation of Comerica Bank Center, its new Michigan market headquarters in Detroit.
  • General Motors made a $69 million investment at Detroit Hamtramck, providing 2,500 jobs; 4,500 GM salaried employees work at GM Global Headquarters at the Renaissance Center.

Greater Downtown is also attracting young, well-educated professionals. A 2010 study found that of the nearly 18,000 residents in Greater Downtown who were aged 25-34, 51.9% had bachelor’s degrees or higher. Of the 12,500 18-24-year-olds living in the area, 22.9% had bachelor’s degrees or higher. Those percentages are more than double the state average.

There are great places to hang out … and those places area attracting new investment. Campus Martius Park was voted “Best Outdoor Hangout Place” in the D by Detroit Metromix. It was also one of Top 10 Great Public Spaces for 2010 by the American Planning Association. APA singled out the renovated Campus Martius Park for its role in helping attract nearly $750 million in new investment to Detroit, as well as for the first-class public space.

The RiverFront Conservancy has developed 3 ½ miles –– 45 city blocks –– of the east riverfront. Development will continue west to the Ambassador Bridge and, this summer it will launch the final construction phases to connect the RiverWalk and its associated green spaces, plazas and parks.

Compuware Corporation turned a half-acre vacant lot on W. Lafayette and Shelby into an urban garden and relaxing green space in Downtown. The half-million-dollar project has funky sheds and places for visitors to stop for lunch or take a stroll. Produce from Lafayette Greens benefits Gleaners, the Detroit-based food bank.

Navy vessels, tall ships and cruise ships will all dock at the new 21,000 square foot Detroit/ Wayne Country Port Authority Public Dock & Terminal. The new cruise ship Yorktown, in addition to five other vessels, will be sail 12 times in 2012 and could bring more than 1,600 visitors to the waterfront.

All these things are terrific but it is also good to remember how many people volunteer every day to help the city. There’s ARISE Detroit’s Neighborhoods Day. People who raise money for THAW, Forgotten Harvest, Focus:HOPE, Gleaners and so many others. The 1,500 U-M students who worked the Detroit Partnership Service Day. There is a commitment to Detroit’s revitalization.

It’s certain the city’s businesses and its people are invested and vested in Detroit. The transformation is underway and will continue.

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