Excerpts from the Guardian:

“… imagine the city as a bathtub. The new investments and activities are like water pouring into the tub. But nothing has been done to plug the giant hole at the bottom of the tub.  This new renaissance does not address why Detroit declined in the first place. It does little to address poverty, unemployment and access to resources for the vast majority of the city’s residents. What’s worse, the gentrification of downtown Detroit contributes to greater inequality and polarisation, which are growing challenges for cities around the world. …

Around 60% of Detroiters who have a job work in the suburbs. Conversely, 70% of the jobs located in the city of Detroit go to people who live in the suburbs. Chronic unemployment and poverty remain one of the city’s biggest challenges.

The current renaissance does not address these problems. Most investment takes place in the Greater Downtown, which includes the city’s historic core and neighbourhoods such as Midtown and Corktown, which comprise 5% of the city’s area and population. Here, once-abandoned offices are being bought up and renovated by enthusiastic entrepreneurs, a new modern tram line is being built along Woodward Avenue and it can actually be difficult to find an apartment as vacancy rates are very low.  The boundaries between revival and decay can be very severe. …

Greater Downtown’s current revival will mean that this 5% of the city will pull further and further ahead of the other 95%. Those able to afford to live there enjoy great restaurants and bars, well-paid employment, safe and attractive neighbourhoods and reliable public transit. The problem is most Detroiters cannot afford to live here. And like everything else in Southeast Michigan, race is one of the dominant factors. In a city that is 85% African American, Greater Downtown is becoming increasingly white.

… Detroit’s safer, more attractive downtown contributes to growing inequality across the city. It does little to address the poverty, unemployment, poor health and abandonment in 95% of the city. It promotes fragmentation and individualisation: why should downtown residents fight for better municipal services when they can buy their own private ones?  Politicians and planners love a good success story. But cities are rarely so simple. And celebrating Detroit’s current renaissance would be the wrong lesson to draw from this great American city.”


See the full article here: http://www.theguardian.com/public-leaders-network/2015/feb/17/detroit-gentrification-poverty-public-services-race-divide