Day One – Project Introduction
I arrived in Detroit yesterday afternoon, and traveled to Troy, MI where I will be staying during my trip. My friend’s mother has graciously taken me in and given me a place to stay. We spent the night talking about my project and she gave me plenty of insight into the city, including the history. The firm I work for also has an office in Berkley, MI, which I visited. I shared my project with a few colleagues.
Overall, everyone is excited about the idea of providing a technology incubator. They agree that the city does not need an infusion of new buildings, nor does it need old abandoned buildings and areas replaced by new shiny buildings that house shopping, movie theaters, restaurants and the like. They appreciated the idea of re-using existing structures rather than constructing new buildings. Mayor Dave Bing has taken a stance for demolishing and removing abandoned buildings throughout the city, as many of them have sat for years as eyesores. He is focusing his efforts on reducing large areas of development in order to reduce the responsible area the city must provide services to.
For this reason, when driving down some of the streets in declining neighborhoods you can see where lots and houses once where, but on a street you may only have a handful of houses still remaining. The unfortunate part is that these houses are typically in good condition and the owners have no intention of moving out of the neighborhood. This still causes a problem with how the city provides services, because although there are fewer houses, the services in these areas are only being used by a handful of people.
This work will ultimately lead to new “greenspaces,” as the city consolidates and lets go of areas in poor or abandoned condition. We all agreed that the city needs to be reduced and that these areas that are being demolished need to return to open space. This move alone could potentially change the city in many ways. It will take dangerous, questionable areas and convert them back to green space, something that is somewhat lacking in Detroit. A city of pavement which has been long known as the “Motor City”, friendly to cars, will have something it has not had in quite some time, vast areas of open space.