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Lakelander does Detroit (Part II)

mendelman

Unfrozen Caveman Planner
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Downtown D-town pics

the powers of the photograph to mislead. An contemporary aerial view of Downtown Detroit reveals the true realities of downtown's "density". Ringed by freeways and gutted by surface parking lots. Also, these pics are not very adventurous. Get some pics of the neighborhoods.
 
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94
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You are right, about the ungodly amount of surface parking lots there and the freeways cutting it off from the rest of the city. As far as being adventurous and the neighborhoods, the purpose of my trip was to visit family members, I didn't take any images of the neighborhoods because I wasn't impressed by them. I was more interested in downtown, the streetscape and the amount of historic buildings there. Although most homes have a lot of character, many are run down and burn out vacant shells awaiting demolition. If you are interested in Detroit's neighborhoods you can go take a look around www.skyscraperpage.com. There are several Detroit forumers on that site and they will be more than happy to take you on a photo tour around that metro area.
 

Cityscape Dreamer

Cyburbian
Messages
31
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2
A good website that documents Detroit's historic buildings can be found at The Fabulous Ruins of Detroit . Click on the "tour" for some great photographs and historical commentary. Or go to"guides to site" and click on "table of contents". He even has an interactive map of everything on the website. Lowell Boileau is a local artist doing a fabulous job documenting Detroit, the good, bad and ugly. My personal fave is his documentation of the demolition of a historical New Center 1920's apartment building, with a *sigh* typical suburban solution
 

OhioPlanner

Cyburbian
Messages
304
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11
Speaking of Detroit, I'm taking a group of planning students to Detroit in a couple of weeks to study economic redevelopment. Suggestions on what to see?
 

donk

Cyburbian
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6,970
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Have not been to detroit in awhile, but I always liked

Goods

Greek Town area
State Theatre Area
DIA
Tiger Stadium Area
Wayne State Campus area

I hear the riverfront is be redone / has been redone

Bads

Joe Lois Arena
Rennasaince Centre
Pretty much any of the suburbs

You may also want to cross over to check out windsor.
 

Cityscape Dreamer

Cyburbian
Messages
31
Points
2
for cowley.11, the big buzz lately has been about the Campus Martus redevelopment project. That whole thing has been clogging up traffic down there for maybe 2 years now. Its presence, and the promise of a new major employer (Compuserve) has seemed to spur a moderate wave of preservation/conversion projects, mostly converting smaller cool-looking old victorian storefronts for new uses as offices, or old warehouses into lofts.

Although I am not fond of the whole gambling thing, and believe that in the long run that type of development will ultimately cause more problems to society than it will solve, you may also want to check out the 3 casinos . After the owner was granted permits to set up "temporary" sites, the gaming operations were supposed to eventually be moved later to "permanent" sites, but I guess their present "temporary" sites are becoming permanent, after finding that moving them would be too expensive(duh!).

And since GM relocated to the Renaissance Center, they have re-designed the access to the building to make it less fortress-like. The RenCen was originally designed and built with a blank-face two story concrete wall along its Jefferson facade. That wall (which seemed to say "local pedestrians keep out---commuters with permits thru underground garage only") is coming down. And the priceless waterfront behind the RenCen now has an atrium garden, instead of a concrete alley service road.

Tiger Stadium is long gone, now a vacant shell. But its replacement, Comerica Park in the heart of downtown, next to the new Ford Field , would be worth a tour. They seem to have brought in new interest in the area. At least now there are people walking around now down there (no joke).

Right north of the sports complexes on the other side of the freeway is the new Woodward Place at Brush Park put up by major suburban developer Crosswinds Communities .Brush Park was THE address to have at the turn of the century. Block after block of fantastic victorian mansions, sliced through in the 50's by the freeway, abandoned in the 60's, left to rot until the 1980's, when a failed private-investment incentive program to save the neighborhood actually did more harm than good. Crosswinds bought up alot of the land and is putting up Woodward Place. Was sceptical at first, but now mildly surprised--that development looks like it might actually fit into the urban context.

I agree that those density shots are decieving. as to where are the people? still North of 8 mile.
 

OhioPlanner

Cyburbian
Messages
304
Points
11
Thanks Cityscape and Donk for the suggestions.

We'll be arriving on a Sunday and will be walking around in downtown. I was thinking Greektown, Renissance Center etc. We'll stay in downtown this day exploring and probably head to Windsor for the evening. If you had 4-5 hours of free time to spend in downtown Detroit what would be the most important things to see?

On Monday we'll be meeting with the Detroit Economic Development Corporation to learn about their projects. Visit the Mies Van Der Rohe Residential District, then off to the Heidelberg project.

As an aside, this will be a group of planning students from Ohio State and a group of planning students from the Technical University of Dresden in Germany. With the exception of a couple of the OSU students they have never been to Detroit before.

I've only been once and that was to go to a Redwings game. So, I don't know very much about the city.
 

michaelskis

Cyburbian
Messages
19,465
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44
donk said:
Have not been to detroit in awhile, but I always liked

Goods

Greek Town area
State Theatre Area
DIA
Tiger Stadium Area
Wayne State Campus area

I hear the riverfront is be redone / has been redone

Bads

Joe Lois Arena
Rennasaince Centre
Pretty much any of the suburbs

You may also want to cross over to check out windsor.
I was at the Ren Cen last spring. It was almost finished being remodeled to accommodate the new world headquarters for GM. It is amazing how messed up it was, and everything they needed to do to get it back to "usable" condition.
 

mendelman

Unfrozen Caveman Planner
Staff member
Moderator
Messages
12,755
Points
42
cowley.11 said:
We'll be arriving on a Sunday and will be walking around in downtown. I was thinking Greektown, Renissance Center etc. We'll stay in downtown this day exploring and probably head to Windsor for the evening. If you had 4-5 hours of free time to spend in downtown Detroit what would be the most important things to see?

On Monday we'll be meeting with the Detroit Economic Development Corporation to learn about their projects. Visit the Mies Van Der Rohe Residential District, then off to the Heidelberg project.
Don't limit yourself simply to Downtown. The above places are good, but since these are students they also need to see the neighborhoods. The neighborhoods define what Detroit "is".

You need to find someone who can be unbias (if possible) to explain the development of the Poletown Cadillac plant. This one event is a good case study for Economic Dev. It encapsulates all associated costs/benefits.

Since you are going to Heidelberg Street, you will definitely see see what I mean by exploring the neighborhoods.

Be sure to explore on foot. This is a pilgramage that all planners should do at least once.
 

OhioPlanner

Cyburbian
Messages
304
Points
11
That's the goal is to stay on foot and see what we can. Of course we'll have to try out the people mover as well.
 
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