Detroit may not be the ideal place to live in America. The metropolitan area faces a super-divide, with some of the richest suburbs and poorest inner-city neighborhoods in the country. But, downtown Detroit is slowly starting to turn the corner. I had the chance to walk around downtown about two years ago and was actually impressed by what I saw. They are really trying to revitalize the downtown. There are some gorgeous buildings, breath-taking views, and beautiful art pieces downtown. The connectivity is not bad either. The problem that I noticed: there were no people! I was walking around on a beautiful fall Saturday afternoon and there should have been tons of people. This made downtown feel a bit eerie. Hopefully this is going to change soon.
One reason this may change is because of Detroit’s commitment and encouragement of downtown living. The city has established Neighborhood Enterprise Zone designations that gives incentive for new developments, including sharply reduced property taxes for up to 12 years. Two Detroit loft projects currently underway downtown are benefiting from these designations, Grinnell Place Lofts and Research Lofts. Both of these projects are industrial to residential conversions which often make for great lofts. Grinnell Place is located very close to Tiger Stadium and Research Place is near the expanding Wayne State University. Apparently there are numerous urban living lofts in the vicinity of Comerica Park and they have been quite successful, although I did not get to that area on my last visit.
I wish there were more buildings like these to convert into lofts in Sacramento. There are not that many industrial buildings that are good for loft conversions in the downtown area. This could be a significant niche for Detroit. Downtown Detroit has serious potential, and if they make the commitment to creating more Detroit lofts and fixing the streets and making them more pedestrian-friendly, it could start the rebirth of the city.