A recent overview of Detroit’s status raises an interesting question: should Detroit hope for any growth at all? Here is part of the story:
“What everyone wants is new neighbors,” said Khalil Ligon, project manager for the Lower East Side Action Plan (LEAP), a nonprofit focused on some 15 square miles of the city where 55,000 people live. “But where are you going to get them?”
The falling population is one of Detroit’s biggest problems. Detroit Future City, a planning blueprint, assumes just 600,000 residents. Launched by Mayor Dave Bing, the plan aims to revamp the economy and use empty space. The Kresge Foundation, started by the Detroit family behind retail giant Kmart, has promised $150 million toward the project.
“It’s certainly the most realistic plan the city has ever had,” said Margaret Dewar, a University of Michigan planning professor in Ann Arbor…
“We cannot cut our way of this situation,” Bing told Reuters. “We’ve got to talk about growth.”…
Bing’s revival plan will end up in the hands of the emergency manager, should one be appointed. “If the emergency manager buys into the long-term vision of the plan, it has a chance. But if their brief is just to cut costs and services, it doesn’t have a chance,” said Dewar, the University of Michigan professor.
Realistically, it is hard to imagine a major reversal in Detroit’s fortunes soon. The immediate question is whether the city can halt the population loss. However, the idea of growth is an interesting one as we think more broadly about American cities. We have a narrative that says successful cities grow. Cities that lose population, even ones that are not even close to Detroit’s population loss, are in trouble. Perhaps we can’t even have a realistic conversation about Detroit until the population plateaus…though this may not be for a while.