Looking back at Model D in 2018

2018 was a big year for Detroit. Downtown, construction began on the Hudson Tower and Monroe Blocks, two massive developments that are expect to cost nearly $2 billion and provide hundreds of thousands of square feet in office, retail, and residential space. In the neighborhoods, the city announced that it has secured $100 million in funding for park and streetscape improvements, commercial development, affordable housing, and more.

Ford Motor Company announced it would redevelop the long abandoned Michigan Central Station. In positive news for the health of Detroit's housing market, the city recorded its 1,000th mortgage for the first time in many years. And enrollment in Detroit schools grew for the first time in over a decade.  

This is just a tiny sampling of the headline-grabbing, transformational news that's happened this year. We haven't even gotten to all the new restaurants, bars, apartment buildings, and shops that have opened. 

It's also been a big year for Model D. Amidst the transformational change taking place in the city, we've tried to cover it with the nuance it deserves — not all major development announcements are unequivocally good for Detroiters and, by extension, the city. 

That's why we've been fortunate to get support for several series that cover these underreported elements of change. "Detroit Innovation," a series highlighting community-led projects that are improving the vitality of neighborhoods, produced a number of stories we're incredibly proud of.

We highly recommend reading profiles of a hip-hop entrepreneur is hoping to build a smart village in his hometown of Highland Park; the Detroit homeless court that changes lives for its defendants; a Banglatown puppeteer tells local stories using international traditions; or a woman's quest to create a more just Detroit. And here's a map of the stories showing where the neighborhood innovators do most of their work. 

Another was our "Equitable Development" series, which sought to contribute to the conversation about how the city can develop in a way that allows for everyone regardless of race, class, or age to benefit from the changes currently underway. You should probably read all eight features, plus our takeaways piece from the four panel events we co-hosted as part of the series. 

Related, but not part of the series, we'd also like to highlight this story about why the redevelopment of a Midtown apartment building is a crucial test case for inclusive housing.

We wrapped another neighborhood-based series, this time on Cody Rouge. For four months, we published weekly pieces on the people, places, and issues that are essential to the west side neighborhood. Each article in the series covered something special, but if you had to read just one, check out our piece on Warrendale, one of the most diverse neighborhoods in Detroit. 

We spent a year covering the Live6 area, revisiting stories from our "On the Ground" installment there and exploring new ones. Our piece on efforts at revitalizing the McNichols corridor highlights an big priority for the area. 

Another important series explored key regional issues in science over the next five years and wrapped with a special report about efforts to build out the Metro Detroit's connected vehicle infrastructure. 

We had several chats with Maurice Cox, planning director for the city of Detroit, about the planning underway in numerous neighborhoods. And more conversations are in the works with him and other members of his office. 

We published part two of our series documenting the most interesting houses in Detroit. Though it's from 2017, you should also check out part one.

One final series we'd like to highlight was a trio of stories about family-run businesses that incorporate even their youngest members. The final story on a butcher shop in southwest Detroit where three generations of family work was especially powerful. 

Of course there were many other individual stories that we loved. Our most popular story from last year was a profile of Bert's Marketplace, a staple of Eastern Market that's been serving food, hosting musical acts, and preserving black history in Detroit for over 30 years. Also in Eastern Market, this photo essay covers the less known night market when farmers sell to distributors, restaurants, grocery stores, and other food businesses in the twilight hours. 

Other fun lists we published included the 12 favorite dishes from Detroit chefs and this one on 12 classic Detroit restaurants sometimes forgotten amidst the new restaurant boom. 

And then there were a number of other articles we'd like to mention, listed in no particular order:
 Thanks so much for reading Model D this past year. Here's to more and better coverage in 2019. 

Read more articles by Aaron Mondry.

Aaron Mondry is the managing editor of Model D and a Detroit-based freelance writer. Visit his website and follow him on Twitter @AaronMondry.
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