Light Rail

Is Detroit's New Light Rail Line America's Greatest Boondoggle?

A $137 million three-mile train is coming to a nearly deserted avenue in a bankrupt city.

|

Downtown Detroit, 1917. |||

Growing up in the 1940s, Robert Fogelson remembers banging on the typewriter and peering out the window at his father's office in a Manhattan skyscraper. Then "[my dad] would take us for lunch to a nearby Schraft's, a chain of restaurants that was popular with housewives like my mother, who regularly went downtown to shop…to socialize …or to meet my father for a play or a movie." Fogelson hadn't decided yet what he would do with his life, "[b]ut I took it for granted," he writes, "whatever I did, I would do downtown."

As much a concept as a physical location, "downtown" was "the most powerful and widely recognized symbol of the American industrial metropolis," wrote historian Sam Bass Warner Jr., and it evokes sentimentality even in those of us who grew up long after flagship stores and corporate headquarters had relocated to the outskirts, leaving urban commercial districts empty and decrepit. Tourists still pack Times Square in New York City, where they can revel in a Disneyland-like recreation of downtown's bright lights and crowded sidewalks. Fogelson never became a denizen of a towering skyscraper; he's an urban historian at MIT and the author of Downtown: Its Rise and Fall, 1880-1950, an examination of how center cities have shaped public policy.

Fogelson's story ends in the middle of the last century, but downtown's allure is an ongoing distraction from what's actually important for the health of cities. It explains in part the twisted logic behind one of the most confounding urban development projects of our time, a $137 million 3.3-mile light rail line that breaks ground in Detroit next week. How else could sane people think a bankrupt city should build a wildly expensive rail line on a partially deserted avenue in a neighborhood awash in cheap parking?

Let's consider what the new light rail line will mean for the people who live and work in the Motor City. Today, the suburbanites who commute to downtown Detroit might be frustrated by their limited lunch options—vacant storefronts don't facilitate much culinary variety—but at least they get to enjoy a congestion-free drive to the office. Under-utilized lots and garages occupy almost 40 percent of the land in downtown Detroit, so the walk from the car to the cube takes just a few minutes.

What if Dan Gilbert, the billionaire co-founder of Quicken Loans and the puppet master behind so many recent efforts to revitalize downtown Detroit, were to mandate that his employees utilize the new light rail line in their daily commutes after it opens in 2016? (Gilbert relocated Quicken's headquarters to downtown Detroit four years ago to inject life into the neighborhood.) That would mean rather than drive straight to the office they'd have to drive within three miles of the office, park their cars in a lot somewhere along Woodward Avenue, wait 7-10 minutes for a train to come, and hand over $1.50 for the inconvenience.

Detroit's coming light rail line on Woodward Avenue. |||

How will the light rail line serve the 26 percent of Detroit households that don't own cars and depend on the city's dreadful bus service? Detroit has a 139-square mile footprint, but the light rail line will serve only those travelers who happen to be going from one spot to another along one three-mile stretch on Woodward. Buses, on the other hand, have the capacity to weave through neighborhoods, giving commuters what they most desire, which is to move as quickly as possible from one location to another with the least amount of hassle. Buses are also orders of magnitude cheaper to operate and maintain, which is why Detroit shut down its last street rail line in 1956, when the city's population was almost three times its current size.

In a 2010 interview with Reason TV, Detroit journalist Charlie LeDuff compared the light rail line to building "swimming pools" in a city that has so many broken ambulances that calling 911 is like scheduling an appointment with a cable repairman. If every train car were to end up packed with riders, the light rail line's proposed $1.50 fare still wouldn't come close to paying the system's operating expenses, so it's destined to become yet another drain on taxpayers—just like downtown Detroit's existing rail line, the "People Mover," a.k.a. the "horizontal elevator to nowhere," which has been burning city cash running empty rail cars in a three-mile loop since it opened in 1987.

Still, the federal government saw fit to hand over $41 million in subsidies to build more light rail in Detroit (that's $25 million in cash and $16 million through a tax gimmick). The Detroit News editorial page recently applauded the project, calling the federal commitment "pocket change" compared to what the government spends overall on infrastructure. Tell that to the public sector retirees facing a haircut on their pension benefits; in a city embroiled in chapter 9 bankruptcy, every dollar counts. Detroit is so cash strapped it's now cutting off water service to scofflaw elderly residents. (Light rail's backers recently begged the feds for an additional $12 million in funding; the money hasn't materialized yet, but they're pushing ahead with the project anyway.)

Detroit's light rail line could be written off as a typical government pork fest, if only a large share of the construction funds weren't coming from private sources. The biggest contributor besides the federal government is the nonprofit Kresge Foundation, which has pledged about $35 million. A key figure behind the project is Gilbert, a downtown nostalgic extraordinaire. Hanging in his offices, there's a 1917 photo depicting downtown Detroit as a dreamy wonderland, with pristine streets, Model Ts, ladies promenading in fine dresses, businessmen in top hats, and, of course, shinny rail cars running down Woodward. In 1917, Detroit was a magnet for the nation's brightest minds—the Silicon Valley of its day—and Gilbert wants to turn back time. He's buying up empty office buildings on a bet that downtown can become a linchpin for the city's revival.

"'People my age, we would hear from our parents and grandparents who were raised in Detroit about how great this city was, from 1900 to the 60s,'" Gilbert told The New York Times last year. "'As I started visiting [other] great American cities, it hit me—man, how did we blow this so badly?'"

Gilbert's downtown investments are harmless as long as he's spending his own money, but the light rail line is mostly a play to leverage the public dollars required to fund its operations over the long term. Gilbert and Rip Rapson, the president and CEO of Kresge, would do a lot more good using the same money to replace Detroit's aging bus fleet, which is an everyday drag on the quality of life in Detroit. (Lifting the city's ban on private jitneys would be even more fruitful.)

But bus philanthropy wouldn't yield any downtown monuments or splashy groundbreaking ceremonies, like the one I expect we'll be subjected to next week, including all the tiresome bromides about the city's comeback. Detroit's best hope lies with concerned citizens and entrepreneurs making less heralded investments in the city's residential neighborhoods, like those featured in "Anarchy in Detroit," Zach Weissmueller's recent Reason TV series. Public dollars should focus exclusively on improving core services, such as helping the Detroit police build on its recent success in crime reduction.

Light rail is destined to become another monument in Detroit's graveyard of failed renewal projects. It's time to cede our downtown nostalgia to the theme park operators.

Nick Gillespie and I covered Detroit's light rail project for Reason TV back in 2010, when it was a 9.3-mile $500 million project:

NEXT: Presidential Overreach Lawsuit Moves Forward, Execution Ickiness Fuels Opposition, Firmer Job Market Gives Slackers a Breather: P.M. Links

Editor's Note: We invite comments and request that they be civil and on-topic. We do not moderate or assume any responsibility for comments, which are owned by the readers who post them. Comments do not represent the views of Reason.com or Reason Foundation. We reserve the right to delete any comment for any reason at any time. Report abuses.

  1. Is this (light rail) America’s greatest boondoggle?

    One word: Obamacare.

    1. Seriously, talk about some stiff competition.

      We’re gonna need a bigger bracket.

      1. We’re gonna need a bigger racket.

    2. Is Obamacare really a greater boondoggle than Social Security or any of that other FDR crap?

      1. Based on the percentage of the economy, yes.

        1. World Police Military Infrastructure, bro.

    3. The whole federal bureaucracy is America’s greatest boondoggle.

    4. I’m pretty sure America’s biggest current boondoggle is California’s high speed train from the outskirts of LA to the middle of nowhere.

  2. I’m reminded of P. J. O’Rourke’s observation that all over the country there are privately funded light rail systems that people will pay considerable amounts of money and wait in long lines to ride.

    These cities obviously just need to add more loop-the-loops.

    1. “I’m taking the Batman Ride line to work today. I took the Cyclone yesterday.”

    2. The greatest light rail system in America, ever, was The Loop in Chicago. Back when it was private, of course.

      1. And as soon as the city forced the system into a fare structure set by government fiat, it started losing money.

    3. Really? I am ignorant of private light rail, and when I quickly googled it, all the results said public-private partnership.

      1. The privately funded light rail systems he was referring to are rollercoasters.

      2. Woosh!

        Joke missed!

  3. You can ride from your foreclosed house to your friend’s foreclosed house rapidly and cheaply!

    1. Federal regulations require that windows on locomotives and passenger cars be able to withstand an impact from a .22 LR bullet. Probably a pretty sound idea on a train that runs through downtown Detroit.

      1. Not really.

        1. .45cal resistant would be better.

  4. There’s some song about a dubious rail thingy.

      1. These guys opened for The Who in Nov, 1979 – first concert I ever attended. It was the week after the “Trampled Under Foot” Cincinnati concert.

        Epic.

        1. I saw Skynyrd in Cincy in 1976 or 77, it was right before they were in that plane crash.

          Best concert I ever saw there was Styx in 77, those guys were incredible.

          1. LOL

            next its going to be someone one-upping you with “dude I saw Nugent with Bad Company in Topeka in 77…. Glory Days, indeed”

            1. Bad Company rules!

            2. I saw Maynard Fergusan at the local college in, like, 1976 or 1977….

              Close enough?

            3. “Wait a second…is that from the ’83 tour? Yeah! I saw those guys at the Meadowlands with Bryan Adams! That was a kick-ass show! I totally copped this feel off this passed out broad when they were playing ‘Urgent’. Every time I hear ‘Urgent’ on the radio I think of that girl’s boobs and…covered in vomit.”

              1. So it’s like Warty’s front porch?

              2. That was a loverboy song, and loverboy has always sucked.

              3. Hey! Who stuck this thing on head games?

            4. Redgum at the Acacia Ridge Hotel, c. 1986

            5. Dude! Foghat opening for Blue Oyster Cult in 79!

          2. I saw Skynyrd and Mother’s Finest in Athens, GA in 77. I remember Mother’s Finest not so much the rest of the concert.

          3. They shoulda taken the train, too.

        2. Trampled Under Foot is a Zep song not the Who.

    1. MTA by the Kingston Trio?

      1. You beat me to that one. Well played.

  5. How else could sane people think a bankrupt city should build a wildly expensive rail line on a partially deserted avenue in a neighborhood awash in cheap parking?

    You can’t put a price tag on civic pride!

    1. The city isn’t paying for it. A coalition of private investors headed by Roger Penske (automotive polyglot) and Mike Illitch (Little Ceasar’s & the Detroit Red Wings) is footing about 90% of the bill… and also said that even without any public contributions, they would build it regardless.

      As for only eing 3 miles long… the B&O railroad started out as a short-line, and used profits to fund expansion. In fact, I don’t know of any railroad that isn’t a “short line” that didn’t bootstrap itself up from an initial shortline run. The eventual goal is to run from the foot of Woodward (M-1) at the waterfront all the way to the other end in downtown Pontiac.

  6. This thing is insane. It’s three miles long FFS. At least the People Mover goes in a circle around some of downtown. I grew up within 15 minutes of downtown and rode the Mover one time! And it was a few years ago after the Turkey Trot just to show it to our kids.

    1. The metro in Baltimore goes in one straight line only, but more than 3 miles.

      We have a light rail also, that goes farther than 3 miles. And you can ride that if you don’t put any value at all on your life.

      1. This might be the most appealing aspect of Baltimore ever.

      2. “you can ride that if you don’t put any value at all on your life”

        Well, if you’re in Baltimore, that pretty much goes without saying, amirite?

        1. Even Springsteen left his wife and kids in Baltimore, jack.

      3. I grew up just north of Bulletmore, Murderland in the County of Baltimore. When the light rail went in (1989-ish?), I recall hearing at the time that crime in our area increased something like 200%. It hence became known as the loot rail.

      4. 3 miles is phase one — just enough to get income to expand it in multiple phases all the way out to Pontiac. At that point, it can also start building other lines (or even start other lines before connecting to Pontiac).

    2. This is what Seattle is doing. What’s truly stupid about it is that whenever they put a line in, it goes in the actual street that was already there, thereby making multi-car streetcars part of traffic. They’ve already got a ton of buses, and buses can at least change lanes. It’s a total glamour project for the politician scum (and probably Paul Allen).

      And of course, when they lay the tracks, they utterly fuck up traffic on whatever street they’re laying it in. For months. Like Broadway in Capitol Hill, one of the busiest streets in that area. And I never see one of these things go by full. A third full at best.

      1. Wasnt that part of the plot of the movie “Singles”

        1. Possibly. I can’t remember a thing about that movie. Is any Cameron Crowe movie other than Fast Times at all memorable? Not in my experience.

          1. It involved matt dillon with a goatee

            No one remembers the movie, but everyone owned the soundtrack, which was epic

          2. Is any Cameron Crowe movie other than Fast Times at all memorable?

            Say Anything and Jerry Maguire.

      2. And when Amazon relocates to Bellevue (or India) in 10 years, I’m sure the investment in a track between Lake Union and Westlake will sound like such a great idea.

        1. Hah, exactly. Though I’m sure Paul Allen will twist as many arms as he has to to keep them from leaving. He’s investing a hell of a lot in turning SLU into a much more happening place than the ghost town it used to be. And so far he’s succeeding.

      3. If only Seattle had something like a monorail. Oh well…

        1. Shelbyville has one!

          1. You’re thinking of Ogdenville and North Haverbrook.

    3. As long as it goes to the new Red Wings arena – paid for with Detroit taxpayer money.

      1. Depends who you mean by taxpayer. If you’re talking corporate taxes paid to the Downtown Development Agency, which exists specifically and with an mandate to fund downtown development, largely with the consent of those being taxed, then yes.

        1. Authoriy, not agency. My bad.

    4. I think this will serve mostly the people living within walking distance to the rail line (downtown/midtown). These areas are developing very quickly. Occupancy rates have been around 95% for the last few years. Demand for housing and sharply rising rents are driving development. I remain skeptical of the M-1 rail, but as a resident of this area, I can recognize who will benefit the most from it. Profitable? Yet to be seen. I have my doubts.

      1. prattle – This is dead on. The idea is to get people to move there; at least starting with the area just north of downtown on Woodward.

      2. It’s also there to link Wayne State to downtown in a way the campus shuttle can’t.

        It’s very easy to argue that any of this isn’t helping the “whole city,” but downtown is the only area adding population and investment. It’s the only area where there actually are some positive results. And a Mackinac Center item from 2005 isn’t really backing up the conclusion that it’s all failed.

        1. If it will help rebuild the core of the city (which is synonymous with Woodward), then that is the first step to rebuilding the city.

          Since this is funded primarily with the money of privatge investors, I expect it to succeed (Roger Penske an Mike Illitch, both worth in the neighborhood of $ 1 Billion are the primary investors. Both have good track records of running businesses with good customer satisfaction and bootstrapping small businesses into veritable empires (Illitch with Little Ceasars, Penske with his myriad automotive businesses, plus how he has operated Michigan International Speedway — awarding a larger percentage of the gate receipts to drivers than any other major track, and keeping the track surface in tip-top shape)

    5. That’s the problem with the people mover… it doesn’t go anywhere.

      This will get ridership simply by connecting Tiger Stadium and the soon-to-be-built hockey arena with parking at Cobo Hall and the Renaisance Center.

  7. Well, I mean, Detroit has a lot of spare money to throw around, right? So why not just try something!

    As soon as most of the citizens pay their water bill I’m sure it will be fully funded.

  8. Yep. Just exactly what Derptroit needs. Another train to nowhere.

    It’s sadness and dashed dreams all the way down.

    1. Derptroit. I’m borrowing that.

  9. Isnt the simple answer to this =

    “infrastructure projects enable the crony politicians to keep feeding new sources of cash into the unionized municipal labor force and the crony contractors that rely on new public works whenever the number of holes to dig and refill becomes insufficient”

    See:
    Big Dig, Boston
    AirTrain, NYC
    California High Speed Thingamajiggy

    1. See also:
      Seattle Streetcar Network
      Seattle

      And I can’t even imagine how long the long-anticipated construction of the 2nd Ave subway in New York is going to take. I could have used that 15 years ago! Had to go all the way up to Lexington from York grumble grumble…

      1. That second Seattle link was supposed to be this.

        1. Ah yes, the underground rail tunnel built ON A FRIGGIN FAULT LINE!

  10. Greatest, or worst?

    Invader Zim: “At least I put the fires out.”

    Almighty Tallest: “You made them worse!”

    Invader Zim: “Worse, or better?”

    1. [Flashback to planet Irk: Sirens are going off, and several explosions occur. Two Irkens run towards a parked Spittle Runner, but abruptly turn around and run away from the ship right before a large robotic foot of Frontline Battle Mech #4 crushes it. In the cockpit of the battle mech, Zim pulls levers while laughing maniacally.]

      Irken Operator: But sir, we’re still on our own planet!

      Zim: Silence! Twist those knobs! Twist those knobs! You! Pull some levers! Pull some levers!

  11. Your crude physical senses and your scrupulous logical deliberation are inadequate to the task of realizing that Detroit is actually a socialist utopia. But you’re too stupid to see that, so all you see are abandoned municipalities, crumbling buildings, hopeless insolvency, and crack heads eating the coyotes that moved into the neighborhoods. Even coyotes know a good thing when they see it, too bad we can’t say the same thing for the defenders of individualism and capitalism!

    /the left

  12. No, that would be Cleveland.

  13. I assume that every city having an overpriced, underutilized light rail system is, or will be soon, just part of the social contract.

    I guess the 8+ figure pricetag is just part of the price of civilization.

    1. We all agreed to it when we signed that contract.

  14. This “philanthropy” shows libertarians how “private charity” is often a huge waste of money.

    Strange to hear that from a website where cops are always the problem they can be the solution. What ever happening to “cops are unjustly targeting young black men?”

    1. Tulip? Mary? shriek?

      1. Nope. Looks like it’s ‘Murican.

        1. Ever notice how “neo-reactionaries” are like Satanists? And I don’t mean the LeVay-type philosophical left-hand path Satanists, but the “I’m a 15-year-old who listens to Heavy Metal in 1980’s rural Kansas”-type Satanist. Like juvenile (in thought and body) Satanists turning the cross upside down for a Black Mass, all they do is invert the sacred cows of Progressivism and think themselves clever. Progressives are female chauvinists, so they will be unrepentant male chauvinists. Progressives are crippled with White guilt, so they will be White supremacists, etc., mutatis mutandis. It really is the most childish and unsophisticated brand of thought to infest the Internet. And the greatest irony is that they imagine themselves as enlightened philosopher-kings raging against the masses; while in truth, all they are are “LARPers who don’t know they’re LARPing,” getting their jollies off from an unwarranted sense of martyrdom combined with an infantile desire to seek attention through shock value.

          It’s all so tiresome.

          1. Some of them are definitely that type. But I’m pretty sure others (like ‘Murican) are just insecure losers that have adopted white supremacism as a way of feeling superior even while they have nothing actual to feel superior about. Yeah, they have a shitty job and no money and suck at most things and can’t play sports at all, but…they’re white! And that makes them superior! Because…uh…I’m not really sure on this point.

            1. Libertarians are well known for their athleticism, LOL.

              1. I think you misspelled alcoholism.

          2. And then we have “libertarians” who pretend their ideology is any different from the liberalism. They even sound the same! This guy probably thinks his ideology is different from feminism, but he could not describe one single difference between his ideology with regard to gender and that of most feminists. He talks about “crippling” “White guilt” but won’t even admit that the White race exists.

            1. PWND

              Ball’s in your court, libertardians!

              1. “They even sound the same!”

                MEGA burn! Did you and your friends think that up between gym and Pre-Algebra?

                1. This sounds hilarious. It’s almost enough to make me unblock him, so I can see it for myself.

                  Almost.

                  1. Don’t bother.

                  2. Are American, LoneWacko, Slap the enlightened, 24ahead all the same person? I’ve lurked here a while and was wondering because whenever this guy shows up he is referred to as Murican, and not any of the previous handles.

                    1. LoneWacko and 24ahead definitely are. LoneWacko’s site used to be 24ahead.blogspot.com.

    2. I take it that English is not your first language. That’s ok. Nice point about ‘private charity’ often being a huge waste of money, unlike government bureaucracy which is always very cost effective and never wastes any money.

      1. government bureaucracy which is always very cost effective and never wastes any money.

        Except I never said that.

        1. Well, actually you didn’t say anything that made any sense, so I tried to interject something into there that did, I was just trying to help you out.

          I know you, don’t I?

        2. BURRRRRRRRRRRN!!

  15. America’s greatest boondogle was handing over the “Paris of the West” to the “you know who.”

    http://www.amazon.com/gp/produ…..00_details

    1. But I don’t know who. Who? Politicians? Democrats? Republicans?

      1. I think Randy Marsh blamed naggers.

    2. A 378-page study in how to profusely ignore causation and focus solely on correlation.

  16. Sucking up to Stalin was a pretty big boondoggle, but it may not fit in this boondoggle sub-category.

    1. You can say what you like about Uncle Joe, but the Soviets did a lot of the heavy lifting in WWII and that saved a lot of GI’s.

      1. Of course, the fact that Uncle Joe

        – Destroyed the Red Army (created by Trotsky) with his purges – especially the officer corps
        – Wrecked Russian infrastructure by insane 5 year plans that made the USSR incapable of arming its troops.
        – so demoralized his troops that tens of thousands of them defected to join Vlasov’s pathetic Russian Liberation Army
        – destroyed agriculture so that the USSR could not feed itself.
        – threw thousands of engineers into the Gulag, robbing the USSR of the technicians needed to design and build weapons and factories to produce weapons
        – Ignored Intelligence Warnings that the Nazis were about to invade
        – interfered with his commanders’ tactical decisions after the invasion, costing hundreds of thousands of troops to be lost

        probably cost Russia millions of lives and prolonged the war, leading to more American deaths.

        Not to mention the thousands of US, British and Canadian merchant seamen who died trying to transport arms to Russia during the war.

  17. We somewhat crushed a vote on light rail in Tampa. However right across the bay Pinellas county is voting on it in November. They even have a taxpayer funded ad campaign… I mean “Information Outreach” I really hope it looses

  18. Gilbert’s downtown investments are harmless as long as he’s spending his own money, but the light rail line is mostly a play to leverage the public dollars required to fund its operations over the long term.

    Other people’s money – so why not use the word scam? Con job, swindle, fraud, hornswoggle, rip off, chisel? Something more forceful.

    1. Because it was kind of a dumb conclusion. Gilbert is investing in the rail line because he wants the rail line. In what way is it to his advantage to use it “mostly” as a play to leverage future taxes. That doesn’t even make sense.

  19. I remember accompanying my mother on shopping trips to Steinbach’s department store in downtown Asbury Park NJ, followed (if we were lucky) by a matinee at the incredible Mayfair Theatre. That was before the, um, bad times.

    1. Sorry to hear man, but most of that prosperity was needed to fund an enormous government, without which, you would surely find yourself in chains by now.

  20. I think California’s $70b project beats Detroits.

    1. I think your $70 gig estimate is going to be low by a factor of three or more.

  21. As seen on Twitter. They’re slowly starting to eat their own.

    Daryl Hannah ?@dhlovelife 1h @MichelleObama so ur in Chicago today 2 raise $ & go 2 a jz/Beyonc? concert – did u c these food lines? this 1 goes all round the block…

    derp!

  22. Any type of infrastructure, anywhere, anytime, any cost, must be built by the government if possible, for jobs.

  23. How about the Detroit Light Rail 5K? You run it one way and ride the train back.

  24. To answer the article’s question: no. The Federal Reserve is…or SSI… or Medicare, or…

  25. Sorry, but I am going to be a pedantic a-hole by pointing out that Times Square is not downtown.

    Carry on.

  26. “If every train car were to end up packed with riders, the light rail line’s proposed $1.50 fare still wouldn’t come close to paying the system’s operating expenses..”

    Plus, as someone who has frequently used very useful light rails in Denver and the one that connects JC, Bayonne and Hoboken, I can tell you that many people don’t pay when they get on. You can buy a ticket from the machine, but I’ve never seen anyone on the train asking to see your ticket, though I’ve heard it happens.

  27. Speaking of Detroit, I spotted that recent article from United Liberty.

  28. “(Lifting the city’s ban on private jitneys would be even more fruitful.)”

    Fucking typical. Those jitneys are great for poor people to get around, so of course the lefty Det gov’t would ban them.

    1. But, some fucking curpuhrashun makes money because PRICE GOUGING!!11!!1!1!!111

  29. As I stated in a thread yesterday (or the day before, they all run together for me now in my kiddie-pool, margarita-soaked lifestyle) Seattle built a downtown light rail that shares the road with buses. Guess what happens if a bus gets stuck in traffic or breaks down?

    Yeah.

    1. And in the SF Bay Area, we have BART, which runs so long as there isn’t one single problem anywhere on the entire network, in which case it doesn’t run.

  30. The Progressive Paradise!!!

  31. BTW, wrong alt text on the second image.
    Should be “It doesn’t look anything like this!”

  32. If you’ve not been to downtown/midtown Detroit recently, it would behoove you not to make statements about it. You’ll fool plenty of people, but to those who live there, or have visited recently, you just appear incredibly out of touch.

  33. Far be it for me to disagree with the author here, but this article reads like it’s from someone who has never even been here.

    There is no “congestion free commute” downtown. It’s packed every single day.

    As for vacant storefronts – there are some, but the rest of downtown is developing, and rapidly. Quite a few chain restaurants have opened downtown in the last year (Bagger Dave’s, for example).

    The idea is to get people to move downtown, and move to the stretch along Woodward just north of downtown. If the city is every going to pull itself out of the hole, it’s going to start from there.

    Will it be successful? I personally don’t think so. A lot of young hipsters are moving in downtown now. But when they have kids of their own, the school system in the city is so atrocious you need armed guards with the kids at all times, especially if you’re white. At that point, these hipsters will grow up, move back out to the ‘burbs and send their kids to schools out there.

    I’m not knocking the tenor or basis of the article, but maybe the author could have put more time and effort in learning about what’s going on here first?

    1. That’s not altogether different from the population patterns in other cities, though. There’s always more college graduates and more often than not they don’t want to live in the suburbs right out of school. But until very recently that’s all Metro Detroit had to offer.

    2. Basically, the idea is to attract people to Detroit other than the racist idiots who invaded from the Carolinas and Louisiana and blame all of Detroit’s problems on Jim Crow laws that never ever existed in Detroit in the first place. But that doesn’t keep them from blaming whitey for the fact that the ytook the city with the highest standard of living in the world, and turned it into a bigger *-hole than in any of the many war-torn cities I’ve been in during my deployments overseas.

  34. Seriously? You’re asking if a $137 million project is America’s greatest boondoggle. In the vast wasteland of current-day American political corruption, that’s pizza money.

  35. The city that cars built turns to 19th century technology as the means to stop the decline?

    Good luck with that Detroiters.

Please to post comments

Comments are closed.