Discuss Detroit Archives - Beginning January 2007 Vibrant Downtown Previous Next
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Jsmyers
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Username: Jsmyers

Post Number: 1845
Registered: 12-2003
Posted on Thursday, January 18, 2007 - 2:18 pm: Edit PostDelete PostMove Post (Moderator/Admin Only)

One of my classmates must have produced this as part of his thesis or capstone project:

http://www.metromodemedia.com/ inthenews/lively2.aspx

It is also currently on the tcaup homepage:

http://www.tcaup.umich.edu/urp /index.html

I haven't watched the whole thing yet, but so I'll reserve comment.
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Quozl
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Username: Quozl

Post Number: 96
Registered: 07-2005
Posted on Thursday, January 18, 2007 - 2:42 pm: Edit PostDelete PostMove Post (Moderator/Admin Only)

I liked the video and his discussion and theories.

Thanks for sharing it.
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Johnlodge
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Username: Johnlodge

Post Number: 31
Registered: 10-2003
Posted on Thursday, January 18, 2007 - 2:45 pm: Edit PostDelete PostMove Post (Moderator/Admin Only)

I liked it as well. I do think having U of M and Eastern so close by may have something to do with why Ann Arbor has a vibrant downtown though, don't you? So, step one, get an ENORMOUS University or two to move into your city. If that fails, build a elevated rail that goes around in a small circle, I guess.
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Professorscott
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Username: Professorscott

Post Number: 68
Registered: 12-2006
Posted on Thursday, January 18, 2007 - 4:03 pm: Edit PostDelete PostMove Post (Moderator/Admin Only)

Big cities, with a few exceptions, operate differently than college towns, but what we can learn from places like Ann Arbor is that walkability (and "bikeability", if you don't mind me making up a word) make a downtown district more human-scale and dynamic.

Transit contributes to this by removing the need for so much on-street parking. One of downtown Detroit's problems is the scarring of the CBD by surface parking lots, which are death to a downtown. In successful cities, land is to valuable to use for such nonsense.
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Professorscott
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Username: Professorscott

Post Number: 69
Registered: 12-2006
Posted on Thursday, January 18, 2007 - 4:04 pm: Edit PostDelete PostMove Post (Moderator/Admin Only)

...I meant "too valuable", not "to valuable". Spot the Professor a typo.
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Johnlodge
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Username: Johnlodge

Post Number: 34
Registered: 10-2003
Posted on Thursday, January 18, 2007 - 4:07 pm: Edit PostDelete PostMove Post (Moderator/Admin Only)

He did actually make a big point about the surface parking in the video. And I totally agree with that. I don't mind parking structures so much, more expensive but they take up less room and don't seem *quite* so bleak. I've seen parking structures with ground level retail before. That seems like a pretty nice way of keeping the foot traffic coming through.

I have seen a slight increase in foot traffic on a saturday night in Detroit lately. But they NEED to fill in some of that ground level retail around Campus Martius. Way too many "For Lease" signs in the bottoms of those new developments.
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Goat
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Username: Goat

Post Number: 9169
Registered: 10-2003
Posted on Thursday, January 18, 2007 - 4:46 pm: Edit PostDelete PostMove Post (Moderator/Admin Only)

Do the majority of Detroiters support the downtown area? For a city that is over 80% Black, very often I do not see many Black people at the bars, stores (the few that are around) or restaurants.
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Danindc
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Username: Danindc

Post Number: 2061
Registered: 10-2003
Posted on Thursday, January 18, 2007 - 4:55 pm: Edit PostDelete PostMove Post (Moderator/Admin Only)

quote:

Big cities, with a few exceptions, operate differently than college towns, but what we can learn from places like Ann Arbor is that walkability (and "bikeability", if you don't mind me making up a word) make a downtown district more human-scale and dynamic.



I'm not convinced of that. City neighborhoods operate on the same principles as towns. In theory, a large city is simple an amalgamation of many contiguous towns.

The major advantages that institutions of higher education *do* provide to towns/neighborhoods, though, is population density, and a desire/need for walkability.
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Cman710
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Username: Cman710

Post Number: 226
Registered: 07-2006
Posted on Thursday, January 18, 2007 - 5:54 pm: Edit PostDelete PostMove Post (Moderator/Admin Only)

In some senses, city neighborhoods operate on the same principles as small towns, but in others they do not. On the surface, a well functioning neighborhood can look like a town, with a main street, a mix or retail and residential, etc. City neighborhoods, however, must operate quite differently than towns, for several reasons.

Consider a few. First, vibrant city neighborhoods have more strangers visit than towns do. (Think of Chinatown or Little Italy in New York City) Second, in a small town, the town in many ways is the neighborhood, and that functions as a whole unit. In a city, a neighborhood interacts constantly with the city at large, is continually affected by it, and continually affects the city itself. This is really important, because while a city neighborhood must interact well with the city to maintain its existence, a small town does not have such concerns.
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Miketoronto
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Username: Miketoronto

Post Number: 448
Registered: 07-2004
Posted on Thursday, January 18, 2007 - 6:01 pm: Edit PostDelete PostMove Post (Moderator/Admin Only)

Universities are not the one key in a vibrant downtown.

Universities are part of the whole downtown mix. Downtown needs a mix of everything.

That video makes me remember my trip to Ann Arbor. They really know how to make the streets look nice.
I think thats the one thing I worry about Toronto sometimes. Our downtown is not full of patios, etc like Downtown Ann Arbor.
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Jsmyers
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Username: Jsmyers

Post Number: 1851
Registered: 12-2003
Posted on Thursday, January 18, 2007 - 6:07 pm: Edit PostDelete PostMove Post (Moderator/Admin Only)

I finally watched the whole film.

I was impressed by the quality of the film-making.

For me, he re-affirmed that the public intuitively knows good urban design (some of the same things I understand as a professional or an individual with an interest) when they experience it.

The vast number of undergrads at UofM and especially EMU have little or no influence on the life on Main Street.

In my experience, the vast majority of people on Main Street are either local families, visitors from the region, townies, or grad students.

IMO, what makes AA's downtown so great isn't that those few blocks of Main are so perfect, it is that there is a large number of blocks around them that are almost perfect.

Compare this to Detroit, where Greektown is a couple of basically perfect (from one POV), but in most directions, there is desolate surface lots or freeways. The compuware development has done a lot to change that though.
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Wolverine
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Username: Wolverine

Post Number: 262
Registered: 04-2004
Posted on Thursday, January 18, 2007 - 7:05 pm: Edit PostDelete PostMove Post (Moderator/Admin Only)

Ann Arbor has 4 total commercial districts within the central city that could cater to university students, and downtown isn't one of them. That's because downtown is for everyone. It feels more like a special destination and the experience is more enriching tham say going to the South U, Packard, or State districts. Although, these areas do offer exceptional urban experiences, downtown is the grandaddy of them all.

This is a great video. It proves that a vibrant downtown can't be created out of stadiums, towering office highrises, and parking structures.
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Mackinaw
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Username: Mackinaw

Post Number: 2331
Registered: 02-2005
Posted on Thursday, January 18, 2007 - 7:30 pm: Edit PostDelete PostMove Post (Moderator/Admin Only)

Well said, Wolverine.
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Detroitplanner
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Username: Detroitplanner

Post Number: 788
Registered: 04-2006
Posted on Thursday, January 18, 2007 - 7:34 pm: Edit PostDelete PostMove Post (Moderator/Admin Only)

Downtown Ann Arbor kind of depresses me. You can't buy much there anymore. Most of the stores have left and been replaced with Bars, restraunts, or hair salons. Now there is nothing wrong with any of those, but it is indicative to everyone going to Meijers/Walmart/BigBoxes to buy everything. The mega-big boxes have figured out they can pass the last costs of distribution onto the consumer. No longer do they have to pay someone to drop off dozens of smaller alotments all over the City, just one store. People will think they are saving money by shopping in a big cold impersonal space on the side of a highway. In actuality, folks are almost required to have a car to buy things there, they typically have to buy in large alotments to get the best deal, and they have to pay for the gas, and car depreciation to get there.

I'd much rather see the Woolworths again instead of Mongolian BBQ, Kline Dept Store instead of the Irish Bar. Not that there is anything wrong with either, it just makes a community more human to have some store diversity down there so folks can walk up and buy a 4 pack of toilet paper instead of drive 10 miles round trip to get 24 or 48!
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Focusonthed
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Username: Focusonthed

Post Number: 770
Registered: 02-2006
Posted on Thursday, January 18, 2007 - 10:43 pm: Edit PostDelete PostMove Post (Moderator/Admin Only)

Heh, and by the opposite, having grown up in Detroit and other suburbia and just moved to Chicago, I'm having to adjust to going grocery shopping every 2-3 days because I can only buy what I can carry...or stopping at the store on the way home from work. So THAT'S why there's so many little markets and liquor stores right outside the L stations. =)
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Johnlodge
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Username: Johnlodge

Post Number: 37
Registered: 10-2003
Posted on Friday, January 19, 2007 - 9:56 am: Edit PostDelete PostMove Post (Moderator/Admin Only)

Detroitplanner,

I agree completely. There are far less unique shops in Ann Arbor than when I was younger. There are a few though. The same thing has been happening in Royal Oak. Neptune Records was the last indy record store in the city, and now it's closed. All you can do on mainstreet now is eat and drink coffee. (at a large chain coffee house, of course. Those independents died too.) And if you're a woman, theres a few boutiques left. Bah. But I'm sure that problem is in no way unique to this area.

I think that's why I like Detroit for going out. Chain's haven't taken over as badly yet, and there's plenty of unique, independent businesses.
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Focusonthed
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Username: Focusonthed

Post Number: 773
Registered: 02-2006
Posted on Friday, January 19, 2007 - 1:13 pm: Edit PostDelete PostMove Post (Moderator/Admin Only)

There are a ton of independent shops in Royal Oak. Some of you amaze me. You see a Caribou on one corner, and a Starbucks on the other, and instantly write off the whole square mile.
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Johnlodge
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Username: Johnlodge

Post Number: 40
Registered: 10-2003
Posted on Friday, January 19, 2007 - 1:22 pm: Edit PostDelete PostMove Post (Moderator/Admin Only)

Well Focus, I work here every day. Starbucks, Caribou, Wireless Giant, Barnes & Noble, Qdoba, Noodles, T-Mobile.. This is what is in the place of Brazil, Noir Leather, Joe's Army/Navy, Off The Record, Play It Again Music, Record Time. It's a completely different Main Street than 10 years ago. Sure there's SOME independents. I said there's "far less", not none. But don't tell me it hasn't gone very very far in that direction, because I've watched it as it's happened.
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Focusonthed
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Username: Focusonthed

Post Number: 774
Registered: 02-2006
Posted on Friday, January 19, 2007 - 1:49 pm: Edit PostDelete PostMove Post (Moderator/Admin Only)

I agree it's different. Only anecdotally of course, because I didn't live there 10 years ago. But change isn't bad. Honestly, I'd take a Barnes & Noble that I could walk to, instead of driving up to Borders in Beverly Hills.

And I agree with mourning the loss of independent record stores. But those don't exist anywhere anymore like they used to. The landscape is changing, this has nothing to do with Royal Oak.

I digress because I'm always on the "wrong" side of this argument on DYes, but I don't see the problem with having restaurants and bookstores on my street, instead of someplace I can go buy paintballs.
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Danindc
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Username: Danindc

Post Number: 2065
Registered: 10-2003
Posted on Friday, January 19, 2007 - 2:09 pm: Edit PostDelete PostMove Post (Moderator/Admin Only)

quote:

Heh, and by the opposite, having grown up in Detroit and other suburbia and just moved to Chicago, I'm having to adjust to going grocery shopping every 2-3 days because I can only buy what I can carry...or stopping at the store on the way home from work. So THAT'S why there's so many little markets and liquor stores right outside the L stations. =)



Sounds like you need a grandma grocery cart!
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Focusonthed
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Username: Focusonthed

Post Number: 775
Registered: 02-2006
Posted on Friday, January 19, 2007 - 2:15 pm: Edit PostDelete PostMove Post (Moderator/Admin Only)

Ha, you're right. Also, coming from driving to work every day, there was this other thing I needed when I moved. They called it an umbrella. Never heard of it.
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Wolverine
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Username: Wolverine

Post Number: 263
Registered: 04-2004
Posted on Friday, January 19, 2007 - 4:35 pm: Edit PostDelete PostMove Post (Moderator/Admin Only)

I agree, it's kind of sad about the loss of independent retail downtown. There's a bit more of it around the university, but many of those have become overtaken by chain retail due to rising rents.

I currently live in a neighborhood just East of the University along Geddes road. It's nice to be able to get my groceries at Village corner, just 2 blocks away. It's kind of shady and costs a bit more, but it's nice to not have to drive out to the burbs to get groceries. Although when I have to buy a lot of stuff, I'm usually at the Meijer in Pittsfield

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