by Mike Gazdik
Outside of the 4 million plus that live within the confines of the six counties of Metro Detroit, no one cares about the city that was once called “The Paris of North America.” A city much unlike Paris now, struggling to keep itself out of bankruptcy and held up by half-century old infrastructure that needs repair seemingly every year, may be finally finding its turn around point.
The media this week are rampant with the reports of the city’s highest homicide rate in two decades, a devastating milestone that is sure to keep the city near the top, if not at the top of the annual “Most Dangerous Cities” list. But, I must confess, as upsetting as the numbers are, the list is flawed. It does not take into consideration the dwindling population of the city, where much crime is done not by its citizens, but those that cross into the city borders to do their dirty business in the ghost town-like streets filled with boarded up houses and squatters. Quite literally, if you drive down many streets in western Detroit, one will find that some have only one or two actual residents anymore, a far cry from what the city used to be.
Like aforementioned, the future is not as grim as these stats could indicate or what you have heard about the city since the riots in the ‘60s and the following “White Flight” and fleeing of investment from the region. The old city is finding new life in the form of new environmentally friendly investment, philanthropy-driven investment from the “Big Three,” the three large American automakers that call the metropolis its home, and finally from the re-population in the form of small businesses and art. One could follow similar movement and investment and see how it has worked in another of the ailing cities in the state of Michigan, Grand Rapids. The second largest city in the state has found new life through investment from large corporations and individuals including the DeVos family and Amway, Meijer, Van Andel and others. If Detroit can continue along this path, it could see a rebirth in other parts of the city as well, just as its Midtown portion has blossomed in the last decade or so.
Cheap housing and affordable warehouse space seem to be key in the revival of the city, both of which are plentiful and there for the taking. Even a Zombie Apocalypse-themed park has attempted to gain large amounts of land and structures within the city in hopes of generating income. While this park, named Z World Detroit, has slim to null chances of becoming reality, it shows that interest in the city still is there.
The mayor of Detroit, Dave Bing, as well as Governor Rick Snyder have a lot of work on their hands to revamp the city, and a emergency fiscal manager, a person appointed by the governor to take sole dictatorial control of the city’s finances, may be the one step needed to make this change a reality. But, Detroit, a city largely proud of the inept leaders put in place by their democratic process, would be hard-pressed to accept such a gubernatorial takeover. According to law, they wouldn’t have a choice and it might just be the most important thing that has happened to the city since Kiss blasted the airwaves with their “Detroit Rock City” ballad (kidding).
Honestly: This city may be suffering and it may be on the brink of bankruptcy, but you’d be foolish to think a rebound won’t be in the future. Just like their beloved Lions, you can only suck so much until you finally do something right. As Detroit is making its turn, despite the grim outlook of the media and crime reports, well, we’re still waiting on those Lions.
Mike Gazdik is the Vice-President of The Farm Club, a blog that strives to bring fan perspective on a global level, while promoting and networking young, aspiring sports enthusiasts.