Vision for Downtown Detroit in 2016 to include more residential, rail and revitalized districts

Posted on April 19, 2013

Downtown Detroit has a problem.

It’s that there are not enough places for people to live. With a 97% occupancy rate everything that can be filled up basically is. So what does that mean?

“You’re going to see projects come down the pipeline,” said David Blaskiewicz, president and CEO of the Downtown Detroit Partnership, as he talked about a slew of new units coming online.

The former Hudson’s site could hold 400 or more residents. Capitol Park’s current projects are slated to hold more than 200 and there are another 106 units in the David Whitney building where renovation is underway. That’s just the beginning of a goal to add 1,200 more residents to greater Downtown Detroit by 2016.

Another issue is security. Although crime is down in downtown 15%, according to Blaskiewicz, from 2011 to 2012, it was cited in recent DDP surveys as a top concern to all who they asked.

To answer this, he talked about a program that has been underway since 2011 but sometimes doesn’t get notoriety. If you’ve ever noticed the blue banners with a lighthouse on them around downtown, you’ve seen locations for “Project Lighthouse.” It’s a partnership of participating locations that has brought together 400 security personnel and is aimed to help people who are lost, have a broken down car, got separated from friends or other types of inconveniences but don’t know where to turn. Dan Gilbert’s Rock Ventures also has a security presence to accompany its 7,200 employees it has moved downtown.

All this stuff about the now is great. How about the future? That’s where another piece to the puzzle, internships, comes in. Jeff Aronoff, director of D:Hive, talked about how interns can have a lasting impact.

“65% of interns work for the company they interned for,” said Aronoff at the DDP annual meeting.

The D:Hive has had a positive year as well with more than 7,500 Detroit tour guests. They are aiming for 10,000 down the road.

Governor Snyder also attended for an on-stage interview conducted by none other than Dan Gilbert.  He highlighted the importance of the NITC (the new bridge), said Emergency Manager Kevin Orr is doing a “great job.” One of his best lines came when asked about the common quote “as Detroit goes so goes Michigan.“

“It’s not Detroit vs. Michigan. It’s Detroit, Michigan,” he said and emphasized everyone should be focused on working together to solve the city’s problems, not just in downtown but the neighborhoods as well.

Other highlights

  • The M1-Rail project is still set to break ground this summer, with a target open-for-business date in the last half of 2015.
  • Also, apparently, there are more than 1,100 businesses in downtown Detroit
  • Live Downtown and Live Midtown incentive projects  have lured 925 people to live in greater downtown with incentives that include up to $20,000 as a forgivable loan towards a purchase or also a rental incentive.

JA Staes, The Detroit Hub.