Imagine, it's the year 2024. You're 12 years older than you are right now. Summer is wrapping up and kids are going back to school. One big difference though, the Summer Olympics just wrapped up, and they were held in Detroit.
Yes, that's right, keep imagining that. I know it's tough because of the economy, the financial hardship that the city is going through and especially the lack of public transportation in the area. Detroit also has a lot of empty buildings, downtown and in the neighborhoods. There are many empty lots around the city too -- some have burned out, blighted structures, others are just plain empty, possibly drug houses.
It's impossible to eliminate all blight, all bad areas of a city. Go to any city because they are there. New York City, Cleveland, New Orleans, Boston, Detroit etc. -- the list can go on and on.
Before we get to the future (next post) and what that looks like, let's talk about how we are going to fix the problems here in the city in order to get to the future. I'll remind you this is just my opinion, but if you have any ideas, start a blog, or tell someone, because you never know where it could go.
Let's tackle the fact that Detroit is broke and has no money to even purchase paper in a certain city department. It is my hope that eventually there will be a brand new city council, with no one on the current council serving in the near future. Dave Bing will run for re-election, but there is a possible candidate that could run. Current Detroit Medical Center (DMC) head, Mike Duggan could run.
He bought a house in Palmer Park closer to his work, but farther away from where he used to live: Livonia. It hasn't been announced that he will run, but it's speculated he will. Oh, and he is Caucasian. He would be the first Caucasian mayor since Roman Gribbs in the early 1970s. I don't believe that the skin color of the mayor of Detroit will change anything. It's how that mayor addresses and fixes the problems in Detroit.
Next up is how to fix the blight in the city. Mayor Bing has a great plan set up to make changes in the city. The Detroit Works Project has short-term and long-term plans. Bing currently has a plan to fix the lighting in the city. These plans, both long-term and short-term, focus on all aspects of the city, including the neighborhoods, how to utilize empty space and city systems.
There are a lot of empty houses in the neighborhoods and in Downtown. The only way to fix this is to get people to move into them. Many of the blighted houses in neighborhoods should be torn down if they are in bad enough shape. As for the houses that are salvageable, save them and refurbish them. Of course, you would need willing buyers. There is only one way to do that, and that is to work neighborhood by neighborhood.
As for the commercial buildings Downtown, most, if not all should be filled by apartments, lofts, retail and office space. Dan Gilbert is currently working on that, along with a few other companies. Capitol Park in the heart of Downtown is under a plan to be redeveloped into a small residential neighborhood. Three buildings will be redeveloped and done by 2015.
I believe that when Gilbert has his "Big Bang" of redevelopment in Downtown, more and more companies will move there along with many other apartments and lofts opening up.
Finally, schools. The Detroit Public School system is falling apart. They have closed many schools, and torn down some, including the former historic Cass Tech High School. The attendance is falling but schools are still filling up with the consolidation of other schools. Public education will improve with more people moving back into the city and going back to smaller classrooms. That directly connects public safety.
By having more police presence on the streets in all neighborhoods, the areas become more safe and that makes it less likely for kids or students to wind up down a bad road. Public safety is key for this city to become a better place to live, work and play.
Finally, public transportation is the final piece to the puzzle. Light rail is coming. The M-1 Light Rail Project is hoping to get federally funded and up and running by 2015. A BRT or Bus-Rapid-Transit System between Wayne, Oakland and Macomb Counties is in the works, although nothing has transpired yet. If everything goes to plan, Detroit will finally have reliable public transportation.
So, if this is all fixed, Detroit will host the Olympics in 2024. It's my hope and vision that Detroit will eventually host the Olympics. It is a great honor and we have the venues to do so. Of course, I could get to what venues should be built and what to use, but that will be another post for another day. If you have any ideas, comment below or check out the Detroit 2024 Facebook page.