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Curbed Detroit celebrates first anniversary in Motor City

A little more than a year ago, Sarah Cox started Curbed Detroit from her laptop in Hamtramck and began to stake her first claim here with a blog about buildings, architecture and art. Today, the Virginia native via New York City transplant has become one of Detroit's more recognizable editorial voices and the homeowner of a Detroit building worth writing about.

Curbed Detroit
, the Motor City-version of the national Curbed brand that started in New York City, has become a go-to newsite for local information about what's being built, razed, sold, rented, neglected, painted and redesigned in southeast Michigan. And it comes with its own unique brand of snark that has helped drive the website's traffic to 350,000 page views per month.

"A few months in I was like, 'What sort of tone do I want?'" Cox says. "Honestly, this is what comes out of my brain. I don't have to try that hard."

Curbed Detroit's tone isn't the only thing that attracts readership. Cox has led the coverage of a number of controversial local stories over the last year, ranging from the political incorrectness of the language in local start-up PicketReport to the city's plans to buy the Lafayette Towers to the scrapping of one of the historic mansions in West Village. That led to Curbed Detroit's regular coverage of the city's Historic District Commission meetings, a beat that hasn't had a lot of writers in recent decades.

Combing through coverage of those meetings isn't exactly where Cox saw herself while earning her formal education. She has a bachelors from the University of Virginia and a Masters in Fine Arts from the School of Visual Arts in New York. Those degrees helped her decide what she didn't want to do.

But they did lead her to Detroit. She spent the better part of a year here working on her MFA thesis about urban redevelopment, traveling back and forth. She saw Detroit as a place filled with opportunity for people in her field to do new things. Not long after that she saw the void in the local media landscape for a newsite like Curbed Detroit and talked the national brand into letting her set up a Detroit office. Since then she has lived in Hamtramck, set up an office in Corktown filled with graffiti and bought a partially renovated house in Midtown (a gated Victorian at West Alexandrine and Third streets) that she and her partner plan to turn it into their living space and a couple of apartments.

"I wouldn't be able to buy this building in any other city," Cox says. "It's an extremely unique piece of property."

It's also Cox's latest claim she has staked in Detroit. It doesn't look like it will be her last.

Source: Sarah Cox, editor of Curbed Detroit
Writer: Jon Zemke

Read more about Metro Detroit's growing entrepreneurial ecosystem at SEMichiganStartup.com.
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