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Richard Florida reacts to 7.2 greater downtown study

In a piece last week in Atlantic Cities, Richard Florida tackles the recently released 7.2 study that shows greater downtown to be better educated and more diverse than the city at large. There is much complexity to this finding, such that we plan on following what it all means in a variety of ways in the near future.

Here's an excerpt from Florida's story:

The Greater Downtown corridor has a population of 36,550 people or 5,076 people per square mile. It might not be not downtown Manhattan, Chicago, Boston, San Francisco, or Philadelphia, but it compares favorably to other Midwest city-centers, like downtown Minneapolis, with 3.4 square miles and 28,811 people; downtown Pittsburgh at 1.3 square miles and 4,064 people; and downtown Cleveland at 3.2 square miles and 9,523 people. Of these downtowns, only Minneapolis has greater density than Greater Downtown Detroit.

Read more here.

Study: Greater downtown growing in wealth, diversity

A report published today and to be shared with investors, developers and city planners, found that greater downtown residents are wealthier than Detroiters at large, but less affluent than the average for the full populations of cities such as Minneapolis and Pittsburgh, which some see as prime examples of successful urban rebirth.

John Gallagher of the Freep has the scoop. An excerpt:

(Data Driven Detroit's Kurt) Metzger pointed out that things are changing so rapidly in the areas that the report may already be slightly dated. For example, gains from the Live Downtown and Live Midtown incentive programs that have bought hundreds of new residents who work for participating businesses into the area in the last two years are not fully captured in this report.

Read the rest of the story (and the full reporthere.



HuffPost Detroit: 'Shack' becomes Woodbridge cycling center

Last week's feature on Detroit's emerging bicycle economy was only the tip of the iceberg. There's a ton of non-motorized activity in town, and HuffPost Detroit is doing a fab job of reporting it. Like this one. An excerpt:

Jason Hall, Mike MacKool and Mike Sheppard are the three young men behind the building's reinvention. The trio runs an annual bike expo called Detroit Bike City, which drew 1,500 people to Cobo Hall this past March. They're also members of Bikes & Murder, a local bicycle club that sponsors a popular weekly bike ride, dubbed "Slow Rolls to Slow Jams," at the Woodbridge Pub, located across the street from the space.

Read on here.

Edgy Detroit Beautification Project explodes with color and controversy

This story in the Detroit News confirms what we knew already -- that the street art that went up on Detroit and Hamtramck buildings this spring is radically beautiful and that the idea was hatched by a Hamtramck-based group called Contra Projects.

An excerpt: 

Hamtramck officials and property owners were so accommodating to the Beautification Project that most of the murals went up there first. It's part of the city's plan to spotlight its artistic side, head off illegal graffiti, and, perhaps grab a little of the global cool Detroit has been enjoying on the international art stage.

Jason E. Friedmann, Hamtramck's director of economic and community development, said the town has long been an art haven for creative types, but that side hasn't always been visible to outsiders.

"We're trying to get our underground creative thing out in the open to underline that this is part of what Hamtramck is all about," he said.

Well said Jason, well said.

Read on here.

Community rebuilds Scripps Park at historic Woodbridge corner

We know this story but love it when people tell it again and again, as does Donna Terek in the Detroit News.

An excerpt: 

A group called Forward Arts Detroit -- headed by Dominic Arellano and Lou Castanelli's Access Arts -- teamed with the Woodbridge Neighborhood Development Corporation and Friends of Scripps Park last summer to clean up, and call attention to, this shaded and walled oasis of calm at one of Detroit's most bustling crossroads.

Read it all here.


Scripps Park expanding sensory garden experience

We have always been fond of this park, at the triangular corner of Trumbull, Grand River and Martin L. King Blvd, the gateway to Woodbridge.

This piece in HuffPost Detroit comes just in time for the planting season. An excerpt:

Last summer, a number of community groups working with the adjacent Detroit Public Library Douglass Branch planted a "sensory garden" in a small gravel bed they constructed at the park -- a project they plan to expand this spring.

When the additions are completed, the garden will feature a variety of sense-evocative plants, including black-eyed Susans for color, lavender for its smell, whirling butterflies for their movement, lamb's ears for their soft texture and nasturtiums for their taste.

Read on here.

Video stars: DetroitUnspun tunes into Data Driven Detroit

The pictures say it all. Well, no: Data Driven Detroit's Kurt Metzger and his charts say it all during episode 11 of DetroitUnspunTV. Plan to spend a good half hour getting an education on proper council re-districting that manages to keep the integrity of neighborhoods intact. Metzger knows his stuff.

Watch the video, commercial free, here.

10 start-up semi-finalists "Hatched," voting now open

A Midtown wine bar, a Woodbridge "gypsy den" serving fine teas and a bakeshop with a big heart -- these are just three of the 10 semi-finalist businesses announced in the Hatch Detroit entrepreneurial contest, which will award $50,000 and mentoring to Detroit's favorite idea for new retail.

Voting's now open to the public -- two rounds will narrow down the pool of semi-finalists to the "Hatch Off" finale, where the budding entrepreneurs will be given five minutes to make their best pitches to a team of judges.

Head to the Hatch Detroit page to cast your votes for the top four -- and come back the next day (you can vote once every 24 hours). Best of luck to all! Detroit could use all 10 of these these fresh ideas for local biz -- and 10 more after that.

Know This! takes a tour of Detroit's creativity

Know This! took a tour through Detroit, catching up with 71 Pop's Margarita Barry, Detroitbigfdeal's Tunde Wey and Bureau of Urban Living owner Claire Nelson along the way. The host says they're hearing a lot of new concepts in the city, "because people are really innovating, people are really connecting and they're bringing a lot of creative ideas to revitalize the city." Hear, hear.

Check the video out here.

Red Bull World Tour goes full volume at TV Bar

Techno enthusiasts might associate the Red Bull Music Academy with offbeat genre collaborations and up-and-coming producers, but the World Tour stop in Detroit last week was anything but. Motor City Frequencies was a tribute to Detroit's founding fathers of electronic music, the second wave of DJs who followed in their tracks, and a chance to spotlight the city's next class of musicians advancing the craft. The week-long event, hosted at Flat 151 and TV Bar, mixed heavies like Juan Atkins, Theo Parrish and Underground Resistance's Mike Banks with hip hop producer Nick Speed (50 Cent, Tupac Shakur).

Excerpt:

Speed told the assembled crowd how much he loves the 'gumbo of music styles' Detroit offers and his send-off was a high-energy tribute to all the original music the city has spawned. With one of his own beats blasting through the speakers, Speed stood on the couch and began freestyling for the audience.

The beat goes on.

Spirit of Hope urban farm brings bounty to blighted neighborhoods

In Detroit, it's still illegal to plant a garden on an empty lot without a primary house. That's the main reason Kathleen Brennan says she began farming on the grounds of Grand River Ave.'s Spirit of Hope Church.

Four years later, four parcels of land produce an overwhelming bounty (just a quarter of the year's produce helps stock 160 different food pantries) and an education on using what's around (old tires as soil beds, for example) to build something beautiful.

Excerpt:

Spirit of Hope fills what used to be four residential parcels, and it's nowhere near the largest in the city. Brennan says that the urban gardening community is tight-knit, and organizers and volunteers feed off one another's energy and dedication. "It's technically illegal, so it's good to hang out with other people doing illegal stuff," she laughs. On a more serious note, she continues, "For the city as a whole, the whole gardening movement is good. It gets people active, healthier."

Dig in here.
 

PBS examines city's urban garden and sustainability issues

Journalist Desiree Cooper asks the tough questions about urban farming and Detroit's future on the DPTV series Sustainable Detroit, which aired its second episode Sunday nationally on PBS. She talks of the next wave of fortune-seekers to the city -- not property-flippers, but hoe-wielding gardeners who see promoting urban agriculture as a necessary next step for repairing, as Cooper says, the city's social fabric.

Excerpt:

"If you're a caring person and you're surrounded by what seems to be just nothingness, it's a heavy, heavy burden," said Myrtle, adding that the gardens are a visible sign that someone on the block values the land, themselves and others. "When property is neglected, it says, 'We don't care, we can get away with dumping, and we can get away with vile behavior because nobody is watching.'" What they are really planting, said Myrtle, is a revolution in values.

Check out Cooper's blog, and cllick here to watch the video.

Art, bikes and a beautiful day at Anna Scripps Park

To celebrate its first year of work, the dynamo arts organization Forward Arts added a new event to its repertoire -- the donation-based Art Ride, which took 100 patrons to lesser-ventured city creations like Hamtramck Disneyland, Heidelberg satellite project Street Folk 2 and Power House Productions.

The bike ride culminated at Woodbridge's Anna Scripps Park, where Access Arts hosted seven installations and a number of workshops and showcases from its students. As the Knight Arts blog reports, over 15 organizations and stakeholders came together to put on the show.

Excerpt:

This is a clear example of why art improves the quality of our lives. On a sunny day, kids built forts with their family and neighbors, and a diverse crowd admired the art pieces, while mingling in the park and snaking on delicious treats from the Pink FlaminGO! food truck. It created a positive energy that people were attracted to, and everyone walked away with a little bit of culture, whether (sic) they expected to or not.

Photographs and more available here.

Midtown incentives so good, they're (almost) gone

Call this year's Live Midtown incentive program a roaring success -- after just eight months, roughly $1 million put up by three anchor institutions (Wayne State, the DMC and Henry Ford Health System) is committed, and new applications are on hold.

That's all gravy to the 197 new Detroit residents who've taken advantage of the incentives to buy, rent or fix up properties in Midtown, New Center and Woodbridge. But high occupancy rates (approaching 95 percent) in Midtown and the CBD have stymied potential newcomers like WDET afternoon host Travis Wright, who'd like to move but can't find a vacancy.

Excerpt:

"I love these incentives," Wright said this week. "It's just frustrating that there's not a whole lot of options for 1,300 square feet for $1,300 a month. I'd totally jump on it. It's just not there."

Listen up, developers. It's time to get bullish on Detroit again. Restore, rehab and build, build, build! 

Read more here.

New doc: Detroit in Overdrive

The Discovery Channel's new miniseries, Detroit in Overdrive, appearing on Planet Green, digs in deep. While familiar faces like Motor City Denim's Joe Faris and Kid Rock get their due, this vid searches out the "tangible faces behind those big buildings" for the three-part special, which originally aired Aug. 4. That means Maria's Comida, the Sphinx Organization and CCS student and designer Veronika Scott are among the long list of the city's community members and do-gooders sharing the spotlight with Detroit's superstars. We like it.

Excerpt:

The Russell Industrial center functions as a community space for artists, craftspeople, and small businesses. Edith Floyd stands up for what she believes in by building an urban garden where abandoned houses once stood. Last, Kristyn Koth and Malik Muqaribu feed Detroiters in their 1956 Airstream, the Pink Flamingo, bringing fresh organic food to Detroiters in a unique mobile food truck, spearheading a local food movement.

Find out more about Detroit in Overdrive here.
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