Author Topic: Rust Belt Special II: Learning from Downtown Detroit  (Read 2100 times)

Metro Jacksonville

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Rust Belt Special II: Learning from Downtown Detroit
« on: November 30, 2006, 12:00:00 AM »
Rust Belt Special II: Learning from Downtown Detroit

Founded in 1701 by French fur traders, over the years, Detroit has become known as the world's traditional automotive center and an important source of popular-music legacies, celebrated by the city's two familiar nicknames, Motor City and Motown.However, the city's crime rate has also brought it notoriety.  Today, the city continues to struggle with the burdens of racial disharmony between itself and its suburbs and experiences budget shortfalls. Nevertheless, Detroit is currently experiencing a downtown revival with the construction of the Compuware headquarters, a recently renovated Renaissance Center, three gambling casinos, new stadiums and the Detroit Riverwalk..

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Why do you tease us?
« Reply #1 on: November 30, 2006, 09:53:54 AM »
Why would we want tasteful signs like the ones seen above? Who needs them? Those city directories so people can get their way around downtown? Like football fans say...OVERRATED!!!! I don't mind getting lost. I don't think something like Campus Martius Park would work in our downtown? I like glorified homeless camps. And the street lighting? No thanks. I prefer dark and seedy. All kidding aside, this is further proof of our city's ignorance. They take these trips to other metropolitan areas. Why? To figure out the best way to use a suburban office park or strip mall? And this is Detroit. Not exactly Manhattan.


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« Reply #2 on: November 30, 2006, 11:46:34 AM »
Of all places, you choose Detroit to compare our city to? Man, it's not like I didn't already feel bad about how sad of shape our city is in, now you show me that even DETROIT is ages ahead of us. Detroit was the butthole of America... Is Jax the new one?

Jerome Howard

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Campus Martius Park
« Reply #3 on: December 01, 2006, 10:34:39 PM »
I think that something like Campus Martius Park can work for Jacksonville. We need to do something...ANYTHING to make downtown Jax a great destination for tourists.


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Re: Rust Belt Special II: Learning from Downtown Detroit
« Reply #4 on: November 13, 2007, 12:43:12 PM »
In 2000, Downtown Detroit was a bombed out hell hole.

Then someone decided to bring MLB and the NFL back downtown. Then enhanced street lighting, wayfaring signage and the construction of Campus Martius Park.  Around the same time GM and Compuware moved their headquarters from the burbs, back into the core, creating a market for smaller shops and restaurants like CVS, Border's Books, Hard Rock Cafe and Au Bon Pain to open up.

After the Super Bowl, two years ago, the new public improvements have been properly maintained and the city has worked to fix up the waterfront.  It now looks like that commitment to concentrate on improving public infrastructure, lighting and the appearance of downtown to enhance it's image continues to pay off.  Its not too late to take a few notes from the Rustbelt's poster child of a city.


Livonia based Quicken finally takes the plunge, moving to downtown Detroit.

Quicken Loans Inc., one of Michigan's fastest-growing companies, will move its suburban headquarters to downtown Detroit, Chairman Dan Gilbert and Mayor Kwame Kilpatrick told me today.

The move, pending year-long studies of the so-called Hudson's site on Woodward and vacant Statler Hotel site, would consolidate at least 4,000 employees in the new Quicken headquarters from sites in Livonia and other suburbs. It also would turbocharge a corporate revival of downtown led by General Motors Corp., Compuware Corp., Ilitch Holdings Inc., new casino-and-hotel complexes and a vibrant entertainment district.

Gilbert and Kilpatrick envision the downtown headquarters as the centerpiece of a mega development combining retail, condominiums and a technology park -- the cornerstone of an initiative they're calling "Detroit 2.0."

"This is big," Kilpatrick said, describing a package of state and local incentives that could total as much as $200 million over the next 20 years. "This is a done deal. We've signed the development agreement. This is the largest package that we -- the city and state -- have put together to bring a company to downtown Detroit."


A news conference to announce the deal -- expected for months but delayed by protracted negotiations and a spreading mortgage industry meltdown that appears to have largely missed Quicken and its Michigan unit, Rock Financial -- is scheduled for noon Tuesday at Rock Financial Park on East Larned in Detroit.

The development agreement is only the first step. After the one-year study period, set to expire on Nov. 13, 2008, Quicken would have an 18-month "due diligence" period to finalize plans for either the city-owned Hudson's or the Statler site, controlled by the quasi-governmental Detroit Economic Growth Corp.

It's hard to overstate the economic and political significance for Kilpatrick and Detroit of Quicken's planned move downtown, a process likely to take at least three years before the first shovels go into the ground. This is a proverbial shot in the arm for a region desperate for some good news amid an almost weekly barrage of plant closings, restructurings, jobs cuts and public budget woes.

Gilbert's 'big-bang' in Detroit

Depending on the month, Michigan vies for national leadership in high unemployment, low job creation and rising home foreclosures and struggles with its enduring image as the epicenter of Old Economy America.

Add Detroit's reputation, much of it historically deserved, for urban decay, residential blight, anti-business sentiment, failing schools and violent crime and the Quicken decision seems all the more encouraging because it suggests real change is occurring amid brutal economic times.

That an Internet-driven lender touted as one of the country's best places to work, with operations in Cleveland and Arizona, with a business model spanning the entire country is choosing Detroit for its new headquarters says as much about the city as it says about Gilbert -- and it's all good.

"It's a Big Bang approach," said Gilbert, co-founder of Quicken and majority owner of the NBA's Cleveland Cavaliers. "You can't have jobs until you have the companies. You can't have retail until you have jobs. We need to locate more and more entrepreneurs in a centralized hub that feeds off each other."

Quicken's development agreement ties up for one year two prime downtown sites -- Hudson's and the demolished Statler site on Grand Circus Park. The idea: Planners would be free to consider designs, engineering and the interests of entrepreneurs and other technology companies interested in joining the Quicken complex.

"Until we went public with this," said Gilbert, who notified Quicken employees of the company's decision by voice-mail late this afternoon, "it was very difficult to have discussions with other parties. This isn't about going out and raiding the suburban locations of companies."

He called Detroit "a great alternative now" and said a driver behind Quicken's downtown gambit is to jumpstart economic growth. "This is much bigger than a headquarters. We're calling it Detroit 2.0."

Postive tipping point reached

The mayor's right: This is huge, however much the move could be dismissed as a) simply a move from a near western suburb to downtown and b) the city's embrace of a mortgage lender whose industry is in turmoil amid declining home prices and the subprime mortgage meltdown.

But such a cynical view would be too simplistic. Quicken sells the vast majority of loans it writes, almost all of which are "non-recurring" and thus cannot end up back on Quicken's books. Think of it and its Rock Financial unit as loan marketers and originators, not loan holders and servicers, who may be affected less by a slowing housing than rivals.

"We've avoided 98 percent of the catastrophe that others have stepped into," Gilbert said. "As far as castrophic incidents that just does not exist."

If it did, why would Quicken's founder choose now -- as equity markets continue their swoon over, among other things, massive write-downs on mortgage-backed securities by such financial giants as Citicorp, Merrill Lynch and others -- to confirm the most open secret in the Detroit economic development game?

"For them to do this, they feel very strongly they will be a strong, viable company in the future," said George Jackson, president of the Detroit Economic Development Growth Corp. and a key negotiator in the deal. "This shows confidence in Quicken Loans' future. This shows confidence in Detroit. This is a real, favorable tipping point for downtown Detroit."

"A man who views the world the same at 50 as he did at 20 has wasted 30 years of his life.” - Muhammad Ali


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Re: Rust Belt Special II: Learning from Downtown Detroit
« Reply #5 on: November 13, 2007, 01:04:57 PM »
Man, that is one heckuva turn around for Detroit. 

Imagine if BCBS moved all of its corporate offices to downtown.  All of that vacant property in LaVilla surrounding the courthouse as well as the Bay and Water St parking lots would make for great bargaining chips for local corporate relocations.  Also, throw in a couple casinos in the sports district, some enhanced lighting, and wayfinding signage like Detroit did and the residents and retail will flock to the core.  All then that will be needed is a completed skyway system and some complimenting trolly lines and voila!
« Last Edit: November 13, 2007, 01:07:40 PM by Jason »


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Re: Rust Belt Special II: Learning from Downtown Detroit
« Reply #6 on: November 15, 2007, 11:58:36 AM »
detroit is pulling to gether bout time theres a cityran by african americans that dont look like waste land