Saturday, March 6, 2010

What NYC Thinks of D-Town

This is partially intended as a response to replies to the previous post, "What would it take to keep you here?"

Recently, I was in NYC, and when I mentioned to a student at NYU that I was from the Detroit area, she mentioned that she and her artsy friends had joked about coming to Detroit to buy a house for a dollar. It's a bit of a stretch, in that as far as I can tell, the "homes for a dollar" isn't exactly how it sounds, but with the average cost of a home in Detroit at about $6,000, that sort of scenario is playing out in the city.

Gentrification is beginning to take place in Detroit as what I'll call "new hippies" (millenials who reject the consumer culture of recent decades) move in, appreciating the low rent and grunge feel of a Rust Belt City. Many are artists or small business owners, attracted to lofts, houses, or cheap apartments in Hamtramck, Midtown, Eastern Market district, or other neighborhoods.

My response to the NYU student? Overwhelming encouragement to consider Detroit a livable, fun place to relocate after completing her graduate degree. That said, she would likely take time to adjust to D-town life, with its lack of public transportation, grocery stores, movie theaters, and bowling alleys.

Still, I argue that attracting such young professionals will begin to change the city, and that Detroit's best advocates are Detroiters.

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