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Detroit’s downtown ‘starting to fight back’
Upwardly mobile lead the way
“When you get a city or community working hand in hand with you as a partner, you can do a lot of great things. People are really investing in the city,” Mr. Forbes said.
“Of course Detroit has a lot of geography — it’s a large city. There’s no telling how long it will take, but you have to start off in small chunks. You have a lot of businesses moving to the area that will spawn other investments — hotels, retail, restaurants. It’s one block at a time, but when you go down there now, you feel a renewed energy.”
Public-private efforts have landed a 22,000-square-foot Whole Foods Market for the inner city, which had been lacking large grocery stores.
“The demand is here, because Detroiters are spending $200 million outside the city for groceries,” Mr. Bing said in announcing the deal between Whole Foods and the Detroit Economic Growth Corp. “[The project is] sure to bring those dollars back to Detroit.”
Other partnerships center around housing incentives to lure and retain workers downtown.
Henry Ford Health Systems, Wayne State University and the Detroit Medical Center, the largest employers in Detroit’s midtown, offer cash perks to renters and homebuyers. First-year renters can receive $2,500 allowances for their apartments, and existing renters get $1,000 to renew the leases.
Homebuyers can receive $20,000 forgivable loans for primary residences within the city. Those who already own their homes are offered matching funds of up to $5,000 to make exterior improvements on projects costing $10,000 or more.
Old troubles persist
Despite the signs of renewal, Detroit remains a troubled city.
The number of homicides is up 15 percent from the same time last year — on pace to hit a decade-long per capita record, police announced last month.
The mayor, in an effort to better allocate resources according to need, announced a plan to target city services based on neighborhood health with rankings of steady, transitional or distressed.
The city’s schools remain under emergency financial manager control as they work to close a budget deficit and enhance achievement after the U.S. secretary of education dubbed the district the worst in America.
Mr. Ten Brink, who moved to Detroit after working for an oil and gas company in Pennsylvania, said he is cautious as he moves through the city, noting its reputation for crime. His car was stolen, taken on a joy ride and written off by his insurance company as a total loss after police located it. He also had a few break-ins, but nothing that has caused him great fear.
Although he has enjoyed the opportunity to get involved in community service — he coached youth basketball in nearby Hamtramck — the thing that will keep him in the city, he adds, is a full-time job in his profession.
© Copyright 2013 The Washington Times, LLC. Click here for reprint permission.
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