Discuss Detroit Archives - Beginning January 2006 Aging Industrial Cities Get Boost Previous Next
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Mrjoshua
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Username: Mrjoshua

Post Number: 794
Registered: 03-2005
Posted From: 69.208.125.95
Posted on Saturday, April 22, 2006 - 2:20 pm: Edit PostDelete PostMove Post (Moderator/Admin Only)

Will Detroit soon join this urban renaissance?

Aging industrial cities get boost
By Haya El Nasser, USA TODAY
20 April, 2006

http://www.usatoday.com/news/n ation/2006-04-20-cities_x.htm

Onetime industrial strongholds such as Cleveland, Buffalo, Milwaukee, Pittsburgh and St. Louis are often labeled struggling cities because their populations keep shrinking. But researchers at the University of Virginia say that reports of their demise are greatly exaggerated.

In seven of 22 cities studied by planning professors William Lucy and David Phillips, population declined from 2000 to 2004 but the per-capita income of residents went up compared with those in the suburbs a sign that smaller populations don't necessarily mean cities are dying. Only two cities lost people and showed no improvement in income: Detroit and Philadelphia.

"It's particularly striking that most of these are northern cities and industrial cities that are losing population and going up in income," Lucy says. "It does not comport with any of our images of what was going on in cities."

This shift is fueled largely by demographic changes. For example, a family of six with an annual household income of $65,000 moves from the city to the suburbs and a single, young professional who earns $80,000 moves in. The city ends up with five fewer people who need government services while the per-capita income of that household soars.

"There's an increase in the number of retired elderly, empty nesters who are not retired and baby boomers who have less reason to be in traditional familial settings with big yards," Lucy says.

Another lure benefiting cities: People fed up with traffic congestion and high gasoline prices seek housing closer to jobs and public transportation.

Cities' housing values and per-capita income relative to their suburbs grew from an average 86% to 89% in four years the highest level since 1980, the Virginia study shows.

The research also found that Americans' quest for bigger homes is pulling them back to older neighborhoods, rich with vintage housing built before the post-World War II tract homes known as Levittowns that typically had 800 square feet.

In 1950, the median size of a single-family home was 1,100 square feet. By 2000, it was 2,000 square feet. That means half the homes were larger and half smaller.

Cleveland, Pittsburgh, Buffalo and other cities are eager to attract young professionals and others who can help revitalize neighborhoods.

"Mayors are beginning to understand that this is a market, not physics," says Ned Hill, vice president of economic development at Cleveland State University. "If you provide services and amenities that people appreciate, they'll move. ... As new construction prices get extremely expensive, people are looking for square footage and architectural style."

Cleveland's population dropped 5.4% in the 1990s and another 3.9% from 2000 to 2004 to 458,684. But its share of the metropolitan area's per capita income rose from 64% in 2000 to 67% in 2004.

"The Cleveland area has that exact type of housing that is seeing very good return," Hill says. "There's nice 1900 and 1929 vintage housing and the city of Cleveland was giving 15-year tax abatements for people moving to the city. ... Places have lost population, but it doesn't mean they're out of business. It gives them a chance to redefine what they are."

The jump in housing prices in established suburbs and the burden of commuting from far-away suburbs where housing is more affordable are making urban living more enticing. Even families with school-age children who dismiss urban living because of poor public schools are swayed by cheaper housing, nice architecture and lower commuting costs. "When housing stock gets very, very cheap, their lower mortgage allows them to pay for private school tuition," Hill says.

"The norm has been that as housing ages, it's occupied by lower-income people," Lucy says. "That's not so anymore."

Buffalo, a perennial population loser (population 282,864), also is showing signs of a modest economic revival, according to the University of Virginia research. Its share of the area's per-capita income inched up 2 percentage points to 76% from 2000 to 2004.

"While this is good news for us, we need to look at ways to build on and capitalize on this information," Mayor Byron Brown says.

The budget he is scheduled to release May 1 will include an initiative to give middle- and upper-income residents a financial incentive to move to the city. Buffalo is launching a redevelopment of its waterfront, including residential development for empty nesters and young professionals. Brown recently spoke at City Fair, organized by the John F. Kennedy School of Government at Harvard University to offer career opportunities to graduates.

"We're aggressively reaching out to young professionals," Brown says. "We try to get them to look at the city of Buffalo and what it has to offer."
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Bob
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Username: Bob

Post Number: 929
Registered: 11-2003
Posted From: 205.188.116.137
Posted on Saturday, April 22, 2006 - 2:34 pm: Edit PostDelete PostMove Post (Moderator/Admin Only)

I think Detroit would be in this catagory if it were not for the fact that our economy is not improving. Young professionals are coming to Detroit, if not there would not be all these people willing to invest in building/rennovating loft apartments. Investors don't like to invest in something that will not provide them with a return. If Michigan's economy ever finally starts improving, so will Detroit's statistics.
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Livernoisyard
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Username: Livernoisyard

Post Number: 486
Registered: 10-2004
Posted From: 69.242.223.42
Posted on Saturday, April 22, 2006 - 2:45 pm: Edit PostDelete PostMove Post (Moderator/Admin Only)

Real estate developers are like TV executives, at times. A show becomes popular, and suddenly like mushrooms after a rain, there's fifteen knockoffs of that one show. And then the bubble bursts...

As long as there's government spending, WSU and the medical industry downtown should be alright. Not so sure about the private sector, though. There's no spampede going anywhere when there's no financial draw luring them.

The added uncertainty of relocating to a community that could be under mandated receivership within a few years doesn't help either.
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Mackinaw
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Username: Mackinaw

Post Number: 1398
Registered: 02-2005
Posted From: 141.213.173.94
Posted on Saturday, April 22, 2006 - 4:06 pm: Edit PostDelete PostMove Post (Moderator/Admin Only)

Yeah Bob, the entire regional economy sucks, and this caps our ability to hang with these other success stories. Nonetheless, I think the most objective outsiders look at Detroit like this: it is seeing economic improvement in 1) nice immigration flow 2) increase in educated residents, especially near downtown 3) downtown development and new regional interest in going downtown 4) slow but sure neighborhood redevelopment by both corporations and individuals.

Now, like Philadelphia (which I think is an awesome city btw, but like Detroit in it's relative poverty and some rough neighborhoods), Detroit is much bigger than most of the cities on that list. It also has the worst stigma among those. Our urban crisis was worse than all of the others. We will lag behind, but eventually we will be lumped in with those other success stories when the educated population continues to increase, Detroit becomes more diverse, the leading indicators (tax revenue) get stronger (lending creedance to the idea that schools and city services might eventually get better, and when we have more landmark developments (i.e. east riverfront or techtown.)
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Tomoh
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Username: Tomoh

Post Number: 164
Registered: 11-2004
Posted From: 24.148.60.142
Posted on Monday, April 24, 2006 - 8:35 pm: Edit PostDelete PostMove Post (Moderator/Admin Only)

Haven't yet been to STL or Milwaukee but plan to soon. I do know that Pittsburgh, Cleveland, St. Louis and even Buffalo have rail transit networks, Cleveland since the 1950s, Pittsburgh since the 1980s, and St. Louis and Buffalo having more recent light rail networks. I believe rail has kept jobs in Cleveland more centralized to its downtown, perhaps the same for the post-industrial Pittsburgh with corporate jobs in its downtown. Of course, there is still a density of jobs along the Woodward Corridor, especially downtown and Midtown, that would be well served by a transit line. Detroit is simply much bigger than any of of those cities listed.
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Erikd
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Username: Erikd

Post Number: 589
Registered: 10-2003
Posted From: 69.242.214.106
Posted on Tuesday, April 25, 2006 - 1:50 am: Edit PostDelete PostMove Post (Moderator/Admin Only)

This study points out the flaws of using population statistics alone to judge the health of an area. The examples of lower income families being replaced with higher income singles are just one example of how population loss can be beneficial to a city.

Other examples of population loss resulting in big gains are the new stadium district and the Motor City Casino complex. Both of these areas were home to impoverished residents, but there was almost no economic activity or tax revenue in these areas.

The stadium district and Motor City Casino take up about 20 city blocks. The result of these developments was total population loss, the addition of over 3000 jobs, and nearly a billion dollars in new tax revenue.

Judging by population statistics alone, these developments have had the same impact as a direct hit from a nuclear bomb. These 20 blocks now have absolutely no population. Of course, the reality of complete population loss in these neighborhoods has resulted in gains that would never be possible from any residential development.

The lesson to be learned is that residential population numbers, by themselves, are not a very good representation of reality.
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Lmichigan
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Username: Lmichigan

Post Number: 3596
Registered: 10-2003
Posted From: 67.172.95.197
Posted on Tuesday, April 25, 2006 - 2:31 am: Edit PostDelete PostMove Post (Moderator/Admin Only)

They aren't, but nor is simple dollar-and-cents representations. Unlike the MGM site, the stadia district actually contained a relatively dense neighborhood with a lot of loss of Detroit identity and history. I'm not going to argue whether it was worth it, but it's a fair question. If that's the case, the city could have easily paved over the even less dense Brush Park for Comerica and Ford, and made more for its tax base than it ever could have as a rebuilt residential neighborhood.

(Message edited by lmichigan on April 25, 2006)
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Erikd
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Username: Erikd

Post Number: 592
Registered: 10-2003
Posted From: 69.242.214.106
Posted on Tuesday, April 25, 2006 - 3:50 am: Edit PostDelete PostMove Post (Moderator/Admin Only)

Lmichigan,

You bring up some other good aspects to this discussion.

I used the stadia and casino sites as examples of population loss resulting in huge economic gains.

As you pointed out, the immediate economic impact of certain developments is not a perfect way to measure positive development either.

A perfect example of this is the recent Motown HQ demolition. The vacant Motown buildings didn't generate any jobs, income, or real tax revenue. Tearing them down resulted in an increase in available theater/stadium parking, and converting unused land into a money-maker.

However, the demolition of these buildings destroyed a ton of Detroit history, along with immense possibility that can never be recovered.

The architecture, historical significance, and location of the Motown HQ gave Detroit a chance to create a landmark development that would have drawn tourists from around the world, and anchor development in north downtown/lower midtown. Whatever instant gains were made by this demolition pale in comparison to the huge opportunity squandered by destroying this part of Detroit history.
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Lmichigan
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Username: Lmichigan

Post Number: 3597
Registered: 10-2003
Posted From: 67.172.95.197
Posted on Tuesday, April 25, 2006 - 4:40 am: Edit PostDelete PostMove Post (Moderator/Admin Only)

It's most definitely a tough balancing act, one that Detroit hasn't been too great at...ever.

Trying to discern the future, I wonder what industry(ies) will set up shop in Detroit, and offer a reverse to the decline? It's not so much that Detroit produces less capable students and graduates than any other declined city, it's that most end up leaving Detroit (and the metro area), altogether.

The area is making strides with TechTown and the like, but at the moment things almost seem absolutely hopeless, almost. The city can't rely on stadium and other low-end service jobs for its well being. I think Bill Gates has a point when he says that public education is mostly irrelevant, now, in that it inner-city high schools are still training people for the low-skilled manufacturing and service jobs that are becoming increasingly rare because they are being shipped to other 'developing' states (i.e. parts of the South), or over-seas, instead of truly preparing EVERY student for college. It is a shame that schools are still passing 18-year-olds that read way below grade level. That's just setting them up for failure in the real world.

Man, talk abour rambling and ranting. Check out that huge run-on sentence near the end.

(Message edited by lmichigan on April 25, 2006)
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Bob
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Username: Bob

Post Number: 939
Registered: 11-2003
Posted From: 152.163.100.8
Posted on Tuesday, April 25, 2006 - 8:57 am: Edit PostDelete PostMove Post (Moderator/Admin Only)

Well said LMichigan and Mackinaw!
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Jdkeepsmiling
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Username: Jdkeepsmiling

Post Number: 95
Registered: 01-2006
Posted From: 208.50.91.234
Posted on Tuesday, April 25, 2006 - 9:17 am: Edit PostDelete PostMove Post (Moderator/Admin Only)

Impressive Run-on....!!!!!!

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