Business, Change Agents, City Transformation, News

One play at a time Detroit’s turnaround is in motion

M1 rail Detroit rendering on Woodward

Detroit looked great on national TV during the Monday Night Football game earlier this month. The buildings glowed as businesses and residents kept their lights on in honor of the game. Blue was the color of the day and it filled the stadium. The pride we have in our city showed and our city’s transformation was apparent to everyone watching the game.

Ford FieldOur city is indeed on a roll … and, yes, there is indeed much more to do. Yes, Detroit filed for bankruptcy. Yes, we have some serious financial challenges. Yes, we must rid our city of the estimated 78,000 blighted buildings. These issues are being addressed and will be overcome.

Detroit’s resurgence is well on its way and the investment is substantial. In the past two years there has been more than $11 billion in new private economic investment and development that’s helped transform downtown’s buildings, businesses, and riverfront into a lively and appealing urban center.

There is much more to come. With the start of 2014 just ahead of us it is a good time to look ahead.

As Mark Twain once said, “Twenty years from now you will be more disappointed by the things you didn’t do than by the ones you did. So throw off the bowlines. Sail away from the safe harbor. Catch the trade winds in your sails. Explore. Dream.”

As chair of the Downtown Detroit Partnership (DDP) I can tell you we believe in following Mr. Twain’s advice. We’ve caught the trade winds, thrown off the bowlines, sailed away from the safe harbor and developed a very robust, ambitious plan that will take … not 20 years … but three.

By 2016 we will bring even more people downtown, develop more places where people can live, work and play.

Capitol Park

Capitol Park

Within three years we plan to bring 15,000 new employees downtown, bringing that total to 100,000. That will result in a fully occupied commercial district by Campus Martius Park and the advancement of other job centers downtown. We will bring 1,200 new residents downtown, raising the total downtown population to 7,000.

We will have walkable, defined neighborhoods in Capitol Park, Grand Circus, the riverfront and along Woodward … and more. To get there we will support more retail along Woodward, the expansion of the sports and entertainment districts and placemaking in the parks downtown.

DDP has also done many other things to advance the city. Clean Downtown is one. That team keeps Detroit’s streets clean. Since Clean was created in 2005 they have removed more than 3,500 tons of trash along 39 miles of sidewalks.

Since I started this column with the Detroit Lions I think it is only fitting I end it by mentioning the team’s Living for the City initiative. That program focuses on sustainable community health, wellness, and development in the city of Detroit, and the team and its players are totally involved. The Lions may not win every game but the team is always a winner when it comes to helping the Detroit community move down the field.

This column originally appeared in the Technology Report with Matt Roush.

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