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ironchapman

Visions for Detroit

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What would you do/build if you were in control of Detroit? I know the city has been having a few problems, so what would you do to fix them?

Just curious.

Sorry if someone has tried this before.

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If I was in control of Detroit I would take major developers on a tour of the cities hot spots. Guys like Trump etc. I would show them Campus Martius and those undeveloped lots then I would take them along the riverfront and show them the properties there. Then i would sit down with them and tell them any lot they want will only cost them a dollar if they develope it and submit a proposal that the city would be happy with. If you can get some residential or mixed use buildings and towers on these lots people will come. Southeast Michigan residents are desperate for some quality urban living. Detroit: If you build it, we will come.

I would also try to get government aid in developing a light rail system throughout Southeast Michigan. Hell if Boston can get 12 Billion from the government for the "Big Dig" I think Detroit could get a big slice of the pie for something much more important than burying a freeway that was an eyesore.

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If I were in control of Detroit, I would build that 81 story book "needle" tower that was going to be built, but got canceled because of the Depression ahaha

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I would build a Major Light Rail System with connections to the bus terminals, people mover, and the heavy rail stations. A Major Hub connecting all of the transportation, perferably Michigan Central Station. I would connect the light rail line with Ann Arbor, Mt.Clemens, Pontiac, and Port Huron. Maybe a connection from the Port Huron Station to Flint. A tunnel under the Detroit River dedicated to a rail line connecting Canada and the USA. I would also get all of the old proposals put back out on the drawing board and try to get more hotel rooms downtown. MORE RETAIL! A Macy's would be good in the David Whitney Building. A revived Grand Circus Park. Another Major League team at the old Tiger Stadium. A 60 story residential building at Monroe Block. I want to see the CBD expanded east and west along the riverfront. All of these seem unrealistic, but there my dreams for the City of Detroit.

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I would build a Major Light Rail System with connections to the bus terminals, people mover, and the heavy rail stations. A Major Hub connecting all of the transportation, perferably Michigan Central Station. I would connect the light rail line with Ann Arbor, Mt.Clemens, Pontiac, and Port Huron. Maybe a connection from the Port Huron Station to Flint. A tunnel under the Detroit River dedicated to a rail line connecting Canada and the USA. I would also get all of the old proposals put back out on the drawing board and try to get more hotel rooms downtown. MORE RETAIL! A Macy's would be good in the David Whitney Building. A revived Grand Circus Park. Another Major League team at the old Tiger Stadium. A 60 story residential building at Monroe Block. I want to see the CBD expanded east and west along the riverfront. All of these seem unrealistic, but there my dreams for the City of Detroit.

<{POST_SNAPBACK}>

Those are definitely great ideas. I think the first thing, though, would be to get the crime rate under control. That would mean putting more money towards the police and fire departments. After getting the police and fire departments fixed, then reopen the Belle Isle aquarium (if it's possible) that was in operation for over 100 years. With the crime rate under control and some of the amneties fixed, the transportation proposals should be worked out. Believe me, I am all for a major light rail system being implemented in South Eastern Michigan. I'm just hoping the new mayor can get enough support to get things going again.

MrCoffee

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If I had control, I'd attempt to do a couple of things that in the end would build off of each other to create the urban vibrancy that the city deserves. These would include the following: (Keep in mind, I only visit the city once a year, so I may be off a little or some may be already in place).

1. Focus on turning Woodward into a showcase corridor for the city, to the outside world. This would be accomplished by repaving, patching up the sidewalks, attractive lighting and a starter light rail line connecting Midtown to Hart Plaza and Belle Isle.

2. Promote Tourism: Detroit has too much history to keep to itself. I'd openly market what the city has left. Its worked for places like New Orleans, Savannah and Charleston. There's no reason why it would be a failure in Detroit. This section would include fixing up Belle Isle.

3. Public Incentives to Developers: I'd freely offer incentives (in the form of temporary tax breaks), to encourage developers to redevelop in certain areas of the city.

4. Economic Marketing: I take a page out of cities like Atlanta and Charlotte's notebook and aggressively promote Detroit, its location, its transportation network, and cheap land to companies looking to expand operations.

5. Residential Neighborhood redevelopment: I'd encourage reinvestment in the city's neighborhoods by offering city owed lots for free, to individuals willing to immediately build homes on them.

6. Improve Alternative Transportation networks: In addition to the Midtown/Hart Plaza/Jefferson starter light rail line, I'd also work hard to establish a commuter rail system that utilizes the city's extensive freight rail system. This would easily provide an alternative to cars for people looking to get from neighborhoods to downtown, shopping centers and even the airport.

7. City cleanup: I spend a little more effort keeping city owed lots and streets maintained. It may be impossible to repave every street, but the city could at least mow overgrown grass in its right-of-way.

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Mass transit of any kind other than busses indeed. Purchase vacant lots. Sell to folks who would build something respectable, or redevelop them myself- housing, buildings, or parks.

Peace

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First and foremost.... clean up the city gov't. Detroit has too many public departments for a city of its size. Consolidate and save money like other cities have done. Detroit has more city workers per citizen than almost any other similar sized city.

Next, get a handle on crime. The police department must be given a clean up. If outside intervention from Federal autorities is needed to help fix the drug problems, use it.

Next, begin to reclaim neighborhoods using a point and spread tactic. Start in the neighborhoods that are nice (midtown, corktown, etc) and begin to buy up and redevelop the land around them. Work on the city one block at a time. Demolish the crack houses that are arson targets, and buy up the properties that are in disrepair. Fix them up, redevelop and sell for a premium. Use the profits to move to the next block. Provide increased police patrols in the boundaries between the developed and undeveloped areas.

Better public transportation. Light rail may be an option if one can find federal funding. But don't hold your breath.

Make Rivertown a centralized entertainment center. Much like the Inner Harbor project in downtown Baltimore. Provide space for a nice stroll down the river, perhaps bring in an old ship to give tours on (an old navy ship or a great lakes transporter)

Redevelop Old Tiger Stadium into a mixed use facility. Try to keep some of the stadium's original structure and build lofts, restaurant, and retail space into the facility. Keep some of the field as green space for the area.

Thats all I can think of for now.

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Actually, that seems possible to me. Things like consolidating city government need to be done anyway, and will save money. The only thing that I can't see happening is the implementation of a mass transit system. Redevelopment of the riverfront is being done through grants, donations, and private money. The same thing should happen with Tiger Stadium.

I will say, however, that the city needs to unload the properties they own, not buy more up & redevelop them. Buying up property to redevelop is a very expensive proposition, especially when you're talking about slumlords who will only sell their properties for way more than they are actually worth. The city would be better off selling their properties and getting them redeveloped, which will then cause the other property owners to fix up or redevelop their properties.

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These are all such great ideas, I love it. I think the only thing that hasn't been mentioned is the Education system. I agree with those who think the first priority should be cleaning up the government, my ideal second step would be the crime, and then third on the agenda should be the schools. The families that are going to eventually need to come into Detroit will bring children with them, and I understand that not all will have children, but unless the downtown and local inner-city communities work on that they will only be able to market to the empty nesters and the urban professionals, and that leaves out a major chunk of the middle class that is so needed for a boom in the real-estate market there.

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I read some comments made by a Wayne State professor that specializes in this field and he thinks the key to Detroits renewal has to begin in the downtown. As much as the current residents may suffer for awhile the downtown needs to recieve the most attention to attract the residents back and make Detroit appealing. I agree with this idea somewhat. If downtown can turn it around with residential developments people looking for an urban experience will come. Then comes more offices and businesses, and after you get this large group of residents and workers in a nice area it will spread slowly. As it spreads things like crime and education will improve because its necessary. There has to be that core however that initially attracts people to Detroit and until downtown is more attractive all of Detroit will suffer. At least thats my interpretation of what i read.

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I agree too, but there has to be sustainability in Detroit's middle class neighborhoods. This is where Detroit's real wealth lies. We can't have more perfectly good neighborhoods go to poo. I want to see housing values steadily go up so that people investing in Detroit can expect to sell their property when they move or pass away. Nobody buys homes in a market that they know in 20-30 years when they're ready to sell, they can't sell their home because nobody's buying.

I guess that's what I mean by sustainability in this case.

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These are all very fine ideas. My only question is Where is the money? I start with the simple premise that the City of Detroit will likely face receivership this year. So, in the near term, the City is going to be immobile to finance any serious redevelopment project. Receivership may solve the biggest problem facing Detroiters and that is its woefully dysfunctional municipal government. Any progress in getting the City back in the black must involve breaking the unions, with or without a financial manager appointed by the Governor. If (not when) the City ever returns to solvency, it absolutely needs to focus much more on crime control and demolition of blight. Crime control doesn't necessarily mean more cops on the beat. Reorganization of the Department may also result from receivership, but again, in the near term, residents are going to have to get by with fewer officers, whether desk-jockeying or patrolling. A serious strategy for crime control must also involve best-practices from other P.D.s nationwide, like the N.Y.P.D. Fiscal responsibility and innovations in crime control comprise, oh, about three-quarters of what Detroit needs right now to lure private investors to any of the city's neighborhoods. With hard work and political imagination, by the end of the decade some results may have borne fruit in the city. Once this foundation is laid, the City fathers, and the business community who support them, need to somehow smoke a peace pipe with the preservation community. Which abandoned structures downtown can feasibly be renovated in the near term and which must be demolished? is a question that must, finally, be answered before any serious private investment is going to flow into the C.B.D. This discussion will doubtless prove painful for both sides. After all, preservationists to this day are howling over the demolition of the Statler despite thirty years of failed refit proposals and a minimum price tag of $150 million in private and public capital. Nobody wants to pull these architectural gems down, but, where's the money? Only when the City is financially strong and safe can these hard and real questions be answered. Til then... :unsure:

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The city also needs to break itself down into smaller pieces. The WARD SYSTEM needs to be implimented so that these smaller pieces are better represented in the city when it comes together as a whole.

When I think of the governing of Detroit, I think of the word CHAOS. It seems very difficult to put any sort of ducks in a row when it comes to priorities because there is always something that is fractured or misrepresented. The breakdown into wards, per se, could provide for a lot of focus to be detained to each little boundary.

If 50% of a ward needs to be litterally shut down because it is too much of a financial drain on the city, fine!...provide a program that removes the few citizens left living there, wall off the boundaries, and discontinue the cash flow and services into that particular area until it is again feasable to redevelop and bring back to the city.

That may sound like a naive and simple solution, but it at least paints a proactive picture in terms of how I envision chopping up Detroit, getting its 900,000 citizens to pay for an infrastructure of (at least maybe 1.1 million...(because we can't illeviate all surplused costs...), thus lowering taxes, lessening crime and drug houses, blah, blah, blah...

I welcome criticism, but that's just a little of what's in the back of my mind when it comes to temporarily downsizing Detroit. Permanently, when talking the ward system though.

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I seriously doubt that a ward system would solve the problems of the City bureaucracy today. Many cities around the country threw off such systems at the beginning of the last century because wards devolved into rife sources of political patronage and corruption. It would add another layer of bureaucracy presumably exempt from civil service regulations and would open the door to massive kickbacks from contractors that perform work in them. Unfortunately, this is the kind of focus that would occur in the real world. In a democracy, voters have the right in Detroit to elect world-class fools to represent them :rofl: . However, voters and their elected representatives in Michigan have the right to pass such restrictions as Public Law 72 and correct foolish behavior resulting in bankruptcy. Near-term solutions to the City's financial mess will result from this process, as brutally efficient as it might be. I agree, longer-term solutions must include handling depopulation of neighborhoods throughout the city in a constructive way. But, as I stressed in my first post, these are dreams for tomorrow (a.k.a. 2010 and beyond) not today. It would be wonderful if low-density neighborhoods could all somehow be fenced off and returned to nature. Such a program, requiring a long time to bake incidentally, would presumably offer incentives for the residents to move, title repossession by the city, and ultimately demolition. This should be phase two in a "master" plan for urban planning. But, again, let's stick to the fundamentals first: a city that's not broke and is safe :thumbsup: .

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Do you think that the next mayor (like Hendrix, because Kilpatrick will only be reelected if there is some sort of "miracle", so to speak) will be able to "save" the city to some extent?

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I believe the new mayor will help the city, but not save it. I am guessing Hendrix is going to be elected. He will lower the deficit and beautify the city and other neighborhoods. I am hoping he will work to get another source of public transit like light rail. For now, there is too much work to be done for that short of a term, unless he is re-elected for a 2nd term.

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A new mayor can bring about some intangibles that will help the city. Mainly, projecting the image that the corruption is gone (or at least lessened) and the city is open for business. There are alot of people out there who just don't want to deal with the city right now because of a lack of faith in its leadership.

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Kilpatrick can't be reelected for forward movement on getting City government under any fiscal control. His track record frankly stinks. The next mayor must campaign on proven abilities to manage a municipal budget and leadership abilities on confronting interest groups that are bleeding Detroit dry. Even the ability to shake the state and federal money trees might help. Most important, though, is financial realism - realizing just how much trouble Detroit is in fact in.

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