City Transformation, Development, Mass Transit, News

Four major changes for the future of Detroit with the stroke of pen

Downtown Detroit Skyline from Rencen

Four bills signed yesterday in Detroit by Governor Rick Snyder have a very large impact on the city. There has been more legislative movement in the state on topics to do with the Detroit than have been passed in recent memory.

We’re going to look at the four areas that will have a long term impact on Detroit for decades to come. The reformulated emergency manager law that was recently signed will also undoubtedly have lasting effects, but seeing as that law won’t take hold until March and the city is currently under a financial review, it’s harder to talk about what the effect is going to be at this juncture.

So let’s get started with what we do know:

Let there be a lighting authority:

Anyone who lives in Detroit can tell you in many areas the street lights don’t work. This problem, exacerbated by equipment that’s more than 100 years old as well as scrapping and budget cuts, has seemed insurmountable and only getting worse leaving darker streets for residents. Lawmakers in the Detroit delegation came together along with the majority party and now there’s an authority that can issue bonds, separate from the city and its junk credit rating, to raise money for needed improvements.

The bill transfers the municipal utility to the authority and utilizes the tax you already pay on your utility bill if you’re a city of Detroit resident (which is 5% for electric, telephone and natural gas) to provide the funds. It’s expected repair and upgrade costs to Detroit’s streetlights will cost more than $160 million dollars.

Get on the rapid bus with a regional transit authority:

We talked about this earlier but now it has the Governor’s signature. The authority is going to coordinate systems across the four county Detroit region (namely DDOT, the Detroit Department of Transportation and SMART, the Suburban Mobility Authority for Regional Transportation), as well as currently the AATA (Ann Arbor Transit Authority).

We’re the only major region in the country without coordinated, reliable mass transit, and it’s a required piece of infrastructure for the region to be part of the new economy. More and more younger people more either do not want to own a car or prefer not to need one every day. Not only that, it’s a hand up for those who are trying to get to work but don’t have a car.

New arena / Downtown Development Authority:

Basically, this is about the new multipurpose arena (most are speculating for the Detroit Red Wings) and possible attached mixed-use development. We covered it more in depth when the news of it first came out. It would allow the Ilitch organization to tap $12.8 million of tax money for the $650 million project. Proponents say the project will have a $1.8 billion dollar impact to the state economy and could create 8,300 jobs.

Local food production supported in Eastern Market development

Last but not least, the green hub of Metro Detroit, Eastern Market is going to have some improvements coming its way, including a community kitchen for food entrepreneurs, rentable by the hour, as part of an $8 million renovation of Shed 5. There are already 75 food companies waiting to use the space, and there also will be improvements made for the market’s wholesale trade as well as plant and flower businesses. Easter Market has more than 40,000 visitors on a market Saturday.

The bill made this possible by allowing the state to give money to non-profits for certain types of projects.

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