Detroit’s renaissance


City continues to revitalize

By Elizabeth Casella

In the midst of emerging from bankruptcy and electing a new mayor, plans have been announced to revitalize the city of Detroit in numerous ways. Several of these plans involve restoring run-down areas, integrating urban farming and building a new entertainment district.

Photo by Nathan Gartner, Photo Editor. The Packard Plant, largely abandoned since 1958, is to be torn down in favor of commercial development.
Photo by Nathan Gartner, Photo Editor. The Packard Plant, largely abandoned since 1958, is to be torn down in favor of commercial development.

“It’s cool that work is being done to restore the city, but I don’t want the history of the city and the feel that Detroit has that makes it unique disappear,” said Schoolcraft student Tommie Walker.

Dan Gilbert, the founder and chairmen of Quicken Loans and member of Projects for Public Spaces (PPS), is one of many investing his money into restoring Detroit. PPS has a plan called “The Power of 10,” which calls for a city that has at least 10 great districts with 10 interesting sites in each district. Gilbert is one of the leaders of seeing this plan through and has already bought $1 billion worth of land and buildings near Greektown Casino and Hotel.

“We need to drive that retail by having more people downtown. The projects such as the Power of 10 plan are great progress for Detroit, and I am looking forward to overseeing them,” said Detroit Mayor Mike Duggan to the Detroit Free Press.

The first plan of action is urban farming. This is an idea that has been introduced countless times in the past 10 years to attempt to bring down costs of food. This plan locates farms in central areas of each neighborhood and puts a committee in charge of running the farms. One main problem is educating to the local communities for maintaining the gardens. This plan has gotten positive feed back from many citizens and is currently used in several Detroit communities.

“Urban farming will benefit the city by bringing cleaner and easily accessible nutrition to Detroit. It will bring better food to citizens as well, which is great because there are not many grocery stores or markets in the city,” said Livonia resident Ahmed Hussein.

A plan that is taking course by private investors after construction of the new Red Wings arena began is building up the surrounding area with bars, clubs, family friendly restaurants and other businesses, which is prospected to be finished within three to five years. It will cost about $450 million for the arena with another $200 million spent on the 45 surrounding blocks of shops, apartments, restaurants and more.

The historical river walk also has plans for upgrades to bring a new look. The area surrounding the river walk introduced many new restaurants and shops for families to enjoy in the surrounding area of Hart Plaza. The city-funded renovation of Hart Plaza has implemented more grass areas and built central seating areas to look over the water. The project will make the area more welcoming and attract more outside events to the area.

The Packard Plant has been slowly collapsing as victim to years of abandonment. Recently, new plant owner Fernando Palazuelo introduced plans to tear the site down and build up a new living area consisting of commercial, industrial and cultural use. The demolition of the plant began on Oct. 14. Charter school(s), apartment complexes and a park are possible plans for the site.

Palazuelo plans to spend $500 million to develop the 40 plus acre site over the period of ten to fifteen years due to the lack of funding that will need to be raised over time.

Palazuelo will hire Detroit workers and told the Detroit Free Press on Oct. 18, “We are ready to pay a good salary.”

Although many people feel positive towards the changes in Detroit, some are still not pleased.

“I believe that investors should be building up the city as a whole instead of just the downtown area. There should be a movie theatre and more stores like Meijer, Walmart and Target around the outside of downtown. That is where the focus of rebuilding the city should be,” said Schoolcraft student Vincent Banks.

Although many citizens feel that the outskirts of the Detroit need to be built up, the development to downtown and additions of a new entertainment area and urban farming are all moves in the right direction towards rebuilding the city and restoring it to its former glory.