Jump to content

Saving Detroit ...and other troubled American cities

Recommended Posts

How to Save Detroit and other troubled American cities

=== ===


How to Save Detroit - and other troubled American cities

"What is the solution for Detroit, in your opinion?"

The is obvious, isn't it? Only blindness and bureacracy is holding it back:

Writedown the debt by 90-98%, and then, What?

+ Build a new light rail system along Woodward Avenue, using private funds
+ Change the zoning laws and building codes to encourage mixed use and densification along the rail station

+ Make it cheap and easy to design and re-purpose buildings
+ Build Smaller homes (and offices), closer together, with a better design (cf Sarah Susanka )
+ Less parking, and few cars, but more "community spaces", where people can meet
+ Police the areas near the stations and where it is dense and will be easier to provide effective policing
+ Encourage start-up companies, and keep the red-tape at a minimum
+ Keep taxes for business at levels which are competitive with the areas around the USA


Removing the shackles of red tape, building codes, and excessive taxes is very important
since it will help to create private sector jobs

AX : http://www.AsiaXpat.com : http://hongkong.asiaxpat.com/forums/hong-kong-property/threads/151831/how-to-save-detroit-etc/

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Duany : "LEAN" - It's Time to kill off the Building Codes !

The Founder of CNU wants to kill off expensive and restrictive Building Codes,

which make it impossible to design and build small projects

(about 42 mins in):

"We want to deliver a world where the young can operate"


"Do you realise... EVERYTHING Now is illegal?"

He proposes the establishment of "Pink" Codes - with lighter restrictions

This is a wonderful REVOLUTIONARY statement - Much needed.

Duany doesn't want to "nudge" Architectural schools (they are dying*),

he wants to Bypass them

*Dying, because they are too expensive, and loaded with Code-heavy thinking

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Remembering when...

Detroit once saw itself as a Great City, enjoying a Renaissance


Listening to NPR: Planet Money Podcast (#475: What Happened To Detroit's Big Plans?)

MP3 : http://podcastdownload.npr.org/anon.npr-podcasts/podcast/510289/205911657/npr_205911657.mp3


The inspiration for RenCen? One or both of these:

http://www.reuk.co.uk/OtherImages/13-amp-plug.jpg : http://looklex.com/egypt/photos/alexandria_fort_qaitbey01.jpg

Were they Mad?

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Beating JABBA the Not-Hut : Killing the American fascination with Huge suburban Homes


Instead of smiting the piggies, the New Urbanists are winning converts...

Through sense, charm, and the attractive ideas of British architect, Sarah Susanka (of Not-So-Big Homes):


"Quality does not reside in Bigness."

"You do not need a 5,000 - 6,000 sf house... You need a house that feels like home."



Link to comment
Share on other sites

The way is was ... as Detroit destroyed itself with suburban sprawl....

Once upon a time, they built grand homes on Grand Boulevard


They they moved further out, providing smaller homes for the working and middle classes


But these weren't big enough for ambitious Americans, who wanted even bigger homes (mcMansions), with more land around them, so they needed bigger and wider highways to get the cars all the way from the jobs downtown to those suburban areas.

Monstrous ribbons were built:


And the hearts of neighborhoods were cut with highways to allow this:


Suburbanites got their big homes, miles beyond 8 Mile Road :


But city life died, because the only thing people had left were fractured neighborhoods


Nowhere to walk to. Few buses. All you can do is get into your car, and drive somewhere else... that's no better either.

And Eminem showed us what that left inside 8 Mile, which is the edge of Detroit:


And Naturally, the employers left the fractured city too.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Want to eliminate all those destructive highways? That would be a good start


But you need to replace them with something that can also efficiently connect people with jobs.

If you use Rail, you will need more density, particularly around the stations

Link to comment
Share on other sites

It is not too late to treat these Banksters as they deserve -- they need a Haircut


Detroit: Pensions or Derivatives? Glass-Steagall Would Have Made the Choice

The 250-year-old "arsenal" city of Detroit was brought into extreme impoverishment by the collapse of the auto/machine-tool industry in size and wage levels, and the national refusal to reverse that collapse, under the Bush and Obama presidencies. Lyndon LaRouche first put forward the policy to revive that industrial base in November 2004; Bush and Felix Rohatyn blocked it; Obama fixed the wage collapse in stone in the 2009 auto bankruptcy/bailout.

But now the most immediate choice in Detroit involves the impact of the repeal of the Glass-Steagall Act in 1998.

That choice is as follows: The city emergency manager, bankruptcy lawyer Kevyn Orr, has made an agreement to pay three banks — UBS, Bank of America, and SBS — approximately $$225 million by Nov. 1. This amount equals 15% of Detroit's total annual all-source revenues estimated at $1.49 billion this year, and Orr agreed to do it while defaulting on pension bonds.

This $225 million is not a debt; rather it represents 75% of the "current negative value" (to Detroit) of swaps agreements with those banks on $1.4 billion in 2005 city borrowing. That is, it is a payoff on a LIBOR-rigged derivatives bet that Detroit was conned into making in 2005 by those banks, after borrowing from them. And if the payment is delayed beyond Nov. 1 to a second payment deadline of Mar. 1, 2014, under Orr's agreement it will be 85% of the "current negative value" of the bet, or likely $250 million.

Orr agreed to this derivatives payoff two days before declaring bankruptcy against pensions, retiree health funds, and other general creditors, giving it first priority outside the bankruptcy court.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Norquist blames government for Sprawl:

+ Highways split neighborhoods

+ Prohibiting Mixed use, forces people to travel long distances, rather that walk




Fortunately, "Main Streets" are now returning, as New Urbanist architects have revived this idea. And many Americans really want them, since they want to live in Walkable Neighborhoods.


Thank Goodness: America's long love affair with the car may be over. (Previously, if you were a walker, you had to walk in the gutter of many US highways.)


Henry Ford was a Demon !

(I say that, even though I was born in Henry Ford Hospital in downtown Detroit.)

Link to comment
Share on other sites

  • 2 weeks later...
On 8/10/2013 at 2:11 AM, Erewhon888 said:


would seem to fit in here.

Yes, it does fit.

Here's a EXCERPT I liked:

II. Dearth of Economic Activity

The poorest city of its size in California; second poorest in the entire United States, next to Detroit. Wow, notoriety in a big way. Almost as poor as Detroit. That is a major understatement. Both filed for Chapter 9 federal bankruptcy protection; yet, both Detroit and San Bernardino are as different as night and day from an economic perspective, and still different from a demographic perspective as well. Not even their states are remotely similar in climate, population, or any of the traditional demographic comparison points. But, still, both are bankrupt. Why these two cities, at this point, now, and not others? Or, are these two cities just harbingers of things to come?


Let's try to unravel the puzzle...

. . .

Then what HAS been constant for 40 years?


What is a solid indicator, then, showing why economic activity has declined steadily over the past 40 years?

Simple: government intrusion (lack of freedom to pursue and engage in productive economic opportunities) coupled with rampant corruption, which has lead rational decision-makers like the normal middle class family to leave the area in search of a better existence. Left behind are those who either cannot leave for economic reasons, who chose to stay for the free govt transfer payments, or others who perhaps just do not think much about it. What is obvious, beyond argument, and that the government intrusion coupled with the corruption leads to decline. There is no other argument that is possible. And what do we know about government intrusion.

Government intrusion is far-reaching and never, ever pulls back save for revolution. Government red-tape and mind-numbing regulations and ordinances have killed business creation. Private business and private jobs create tax revenues. Government jobs and government regulations kill private business and decrease government revenues. Why is that so impossible to articulate or understand by those in power? Umm, simple. Admitting it means that those in charge are hopelessly corrupt. So here we are.

Corruption has poisoned the system from top to bottom, for a generation or more. Corruption has killed a once thriving, vital city like San Bernardino. I have seen this with my own eyes.

== ==

How to kill government corruption?

Make government much smaller, I suppose

Link to comment
Share on other sites

(An important matter that needs fixing - will they use local vigilantes?)


Detroit Citizens take law into their own hands because local police are an epic fail!


Detroit community beats alleged rapist of 15 y.o. girl with Down Syndrome after slow police response

[link to www.wxyz.com]


Link says it all local community had enough!

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Detroit Light Rail - Just a Boondoggle? It depends...


"Seems completely dead on arrival - no one is going to ride a train in a straight shot that they could drive twice as fast."

Have the guy who made that comment been to Detroit?

I was born there, and grew up in the suburbs. Once up a time, I had a job working at the second largest bank in downtown Detroit, and used to commute sometimes by rail, taking a (very slow) commuter train from Birmingham to a station downtown, where I used to walk to my job in the Guardian building.

I think a train straight down Woodward Avenue makes sense, provided:

+ They remove the shackles from business and encourage new businesses to start-up and old ones to expand,

+ That they have a clear plan to DENSIFY along the rail, at the stations, so that people can live Carfree lives (as they do in HK),

+ That the trains runs fast, efficiently, and is safe (as in HK). That will be a challenge in a city with Detroit's weather and crime rate

The worst thing would be to build another People Mover. I reckon the name was meant ironically, since it moves very few people, and it is quicker to walk the short distance it "services."

Detroit needs catalyst to bring itself back to health. The Tarin can be part of that, but without the right policies and planning around it, the project will be a Dead White Elephant.

I believe this project is being privately developed and managed, and so it ghas a chance. The woman from Royal Oak represents a viable (and even thriving) city on the outskirts of Detroit. This could really help here community, and ifd her community uses it, then it has a chnace for success. I wonder if she is ready to allow high rise apartment house to be built in Royal Oak close to the station? That is the sort of thing that will bring success.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

  • 2 weeks later...


There are millions and millions of homes in foreclosure and millions and millions more unsold, the only way for this market to proceed is steep discounts. Even now houses for a dollar are spreading, Gary, Indiana has now joined Detroit in offering homes for $1. Yes you can buy a house for a buck! And you can buy whole blocks of houses and become a slum lord. Once people see houses selling for cheap, that changes their minds about what a house is worth. High home ‘values’ is a myth lodged in the brains of brain dead consumers, a house is commodity like any other commodity and its price is set by market forces, oversupply will eventually overwhelm this last vain attempt of the banking system to keep prices high and their balance sheets in the black.

$1 homes in:
Gary, Indiana –

Detroit, Michigan –

Continued below
Link to comment
Share on other sites

  • 1 month later...

White-pride group talking about "taking over Detroit"

MP3 : http://mediaarchives.gsradio.net/mike_harris/hr1092513.mp3

"Property there is dirt cheap... there's an infrastructure"

(I wonder what the peaceful black urban farmers would think of this ?)

"The blacks will leave on their own, because the Fed, (State, and City) government is disappearing."

"There's going to be no government, no taxpayers."

Link to comment
Share on other sites

  • 1 year later...


It may be possible. There have been some changes:

+ Detroit has gone through bankruptcy

+ There's a new mayor, Mike Duggan

+ Deals are being done, bring jobs to the city... here's one: (from today's Detroit Free Press):


Deal for One Detroit Center is major coup for Gilbert, Duggan


The purchase price for One Detroit Center was well above $100 million

Ally Financial to move 1,300 into Tower

Businessman Dan Gilbert said Tuesday he bought the One Detroit Center skyscraper downtown and snagged Ally Financial as a key tenant, a blockbuster deal that expands his downtown Detroit empire. (*Gilbert now has 45 downtown properties.)

Ally plans to move in next spring and will chip in $50 million to help upgrade the 13 floors than it plans to occupy.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Why did Detroit become a city in the first place? (honest question I don't know the answer to). It would seem to me that places without a reason to exist today will disappear as simply as they appeared. Well maybe not quite as simply. Destruction is far harder to take than construction.


I have seen smaller towns in Japan disintegrate as their reason to be (exist) has disappeared. People still live there clinging to their 'roots' but really if a town is not growing-or maintaining itself doing what it has alays done, then it is simply a matter of time until the weeds win out.


Maybe Detroit will revert to what it was before the automobile industry. In fact I think a lot of places will revert to whatever their reason to be was. ie a major city which was once simply a fishing port will become a simple fishing port again.. Towns built up by a river running through it will revert to becoming a natural place to do agriculture and wash ones clothes.


Good places will be natural, old market towns which have provided, wey hey, a market for outlying villages. They will be defined by their geography, topography, walkability, transport etc...


So about 150 years ago what was Detroit?

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Why did Detroit emerge as a center for Autos?


Well, Henry Ford had his bicycle shop there, and that's where he created the Model-T


The city also has a decent Port, with an outlet into the Great Lakes.

Around the Great Lakes are iron ore deposits, so moving the raw materials from the Mines to the Steel factor was easy by ship.


Later, rail connections were put in place, and those still mostly exists.


Cars both made and destroyed Detroit.

The city made a decision to discontinue its troll lines, and pull up some of the commuter rail lines.

For some years, people raced down specially built highways to get to the city center from the suburbs.

But those same highways, cut the city into shreds, and destroyed some neighborhoods and cut others off.


When white flight came in the 1960's, the poorer blacks were left in the City, with whites fleeing to "the Lily White" suburbs.

That was still functionally alright until, the jobs began to be shed, and so the City became an unsustainable mess of poor people,

led by some politicians only interested in exploiting their positions for financial gain - An honest black mayor, Dave Bing,

came too late to save the city.


Now it has shrunk down to a level where there is much cheap infrastructure and old buildings that can be acquired

below replacement value. If companies and jobs can be brought back in, the city has a chance. But it will not be easy,

since much of the housing stock is abandoned and deteriorating.


Compare Detroit, with and approx. 20% Housing Vacancy Rate:



With Philadelphia, where the vacancy rate is under 5%


Perhaps a smaller Detroit, with fewer poor people to feed, may rediscover its roots as a creative

and inventive place.


(Today, I was speaking to my nephew who was educated at University of Detroit as an architect.

He now works for the largest architectural firm in the world, which is based in California.

He has become optimistic about Detroit's future. Its cheapness is an advantage. And he sees

it as a sort of "blank canvas" where people will experiment.)

Link to comment
Share on other sites

"cars both made and destroyed Detroit"


Insightful comment. Detroit sounds like a model for many places, yet unique also. Whatever happens if is going to be a lot smaller. Maybe they can reinvent the bicycle industry again?

Too many poor, desperate people by the sound of it. And the weather...

Salvage as many beautiful homes as possible, move them to other parts using the big roads.

Or offer the city to retiring aliens and their spaceships can race along those expressways. Just don't waste any more money trying to do a makeover. The guy buying the downtown skyscrapers must be seriously rich and delusional. He should tune into JHK and smell the coffee.

And for the rest of humanity, Detroit should remain a museum piece of how not to live.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

  • 1 month later...

(Post-bankruptcy: Is Detroit now... Saved? "Saved" by its own bankruptcy?)


TAKING BACK DETROIT (an article in the May 2015 National Geographic)


With the nation's biggest bankruptcy in the rearview mirror, the Motor City and birthplace of Motown

finds itself suddenly cool again. Tough, real, and cheap, it has plenty of space to fuel any imagination

. . .

Rethinking Detroit

In less than five decades the once vibrant Motor City lost more than half its population and gained a reputation as a failed metropolis of abandoned buildings, widespread poverty and rampant crime. But photos of derelict homes and empty lots can create a misleading impression. The city ranked 69th in population density - people per square mile - among US cities with more than a hundred thousand people, ahead of Las Vegas, Denver, Phoenix, and Portland, Oregon to name just a few. Detroit is still losing inhabitants, but neighborhoods like Woodbridge are rebounding


> Nat'l Geo : http://www.nationalgeographic-magazine.com/current-issue/



Hamtramack and Highland Park are incorporated cities completely surrounded by Detroit. Historically Polish Hamtramack now has the third largest Bangladeshi population in the U.S.
Construction is starting on the privately and publicly funded 3.3-mile M-1 Rail streetcar project. It will connect downtown Detroit to the bustling Midtown commercial area.
Investor interest in Detroit's downtown is growing. Residential occupancy rates are high, and two local investors have bought and are developing more than 130 properties.

Link to comment
Share on other sites




Dan Gilbert : 2011 article : http://www.mlive.com/news/detroit/index.ssf/2011/06/transform_detroit_dan_gilberts.html



Mayor Mike Duggan



M-1 Rail streetcar / mixed feelings : http://www.modeldmedia.com/features/M-1-Rail-construction-effects-102314.aspx


The people of Detroit

Link to comment
Share on other sites

  • 1 year later...

CNU comes to Comeback City, Detroit

The Transforming City is the theme of this year’s Congress—and it’s the most inspiring CNU storyline that I can remember.

Everything bad that has happened to US cities since 1950 is compounded in the Motor City. Detroit has lost more than 60 percent of its population. Its industrial economy is decimated. Houses have burned down almost nightly for years. Crime, poor schools, bankruptcy—you name it—Detroit has suffered more than most cities. And yet you don’t get the sense that the city is defeated.

Far from it—Detroit seems to be on the rise. The spirit of resilience is palpable. That’s why Detroit is an exciting location for CNU 24 in Detroit June 8-11. One big story that attendees will delve into is the downtown renaissance. Detroit’s downtown is booming. That story goes well beyond billionaire Dan Gilbert, who deserves a lot of credit. Downtown has gained more than 16,000 employees since 2010, boosted by Gilbert’s moving of Quicken Loans and his umbrella company Rock Ventures, which includes real estate development. Gilbert went on a buying spree, acquiring 90 buildings and parking facilities, according to Curbed Detroit, to refurbish properties for office and residential.

Gilbert built on a foundation of incremental development that started in the late 1990s, according to Mark Nickita of Archive DS, and architect and business owner. “There’s a definite connection between dozens of incremental developers and then huge major players who are investing billions of dollars,” he says. “Plus the foundations like Kresge who helped fund the QLine (the streetcar), and then you add in demand and interest in urban life and a major metropolitan area of five million people that can draw on incredible resources—that’s driving what is happening in Detroit now.”

Other notable players are the pizza tycoon Mike Ilitch, a big developer, and Blue Cross Blue Shield, which brought 3,600 employees downtown from 2010 to 2012.

Downtown, which often felt like a ghost town 15 years ago, now has a housing shortage, with 98 percent residential vacancy. More people are creating demand for retail, and Gilbert is moving ahead with a 225,000 square foot retail project with 250 residential units on the site where Hudson’s Department Store once stood.


> http://www.strongtowns.org/journal/2016/5/10/comeback-city-cnu-in-detroit

Link to comment
Share on other sites

  • 10 months later...
Fitness studio opens in Royal Oak

March 28, 2017 by The Oakland Press

The Oakland PressSam Strager, 24, a Groves High School and University of Michigan Dearborn graduate from Birmingham has been wanting to open a barre studio from the moment she stepped into her first barre studio. In early January, her dream came true when she opened ...

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Create an account or sign in to comment

You need to be a member in order to leave a comment

Create an account

Sign up for a new account in our community. It's easy!

Register a new account

Sign in

Already have an account? Sign in here.

Sign In Now
  • Create New...