Celebrating 20 Years!
In the News
It was a sun-lit, crisp fall Saturday, the kind of day that makes Michigan unbeatable as a place to live, so I decided to take my dog, Chrissy, for a walk.
From our home in the Riverfront Apartments, we headed into the downtown. Our leisurely pace allowed time to contemplate things that often get overlooked by so many of us as we rush from meeting to meeting during the week.
What was clearly evident on this walk through our downtown is the transformation that is well underway. I have lived in Detroit since 1986. The changes that are visible reminded me just how far we have come.
At the corner of Washington and Michigan I marveled at the progress being made in bringing the Book Cadillac back to life. The Book has sat there dark and lifeless since I moved into Detroit. Today it is full of activity.
To my left down Michigan was the new MGM Grand Detroit - an $800 million entertainment palace that has raised the bar on hospitality in our city and region.
Our next stop was Campus Martius, which has become a new center of energy and activity in an area that for many years was more of an afterthought.
Then it was north on Woodward, past new housing that is revitalizing the former commercial district, past Frank Taylor's bustling Detroit Breakfast House, through Grand Circus Park and into the Theatre District.
In 1986 that part of downtown was all but dead. There was talk of tearing down the Fox. The Grand Circus Theatre was closed and rapidly deteriorating. The Gem Theatre was closed. Today the area is thriving, the second largest theatre district in any city east of the Mississippi, complete with two new stadiums that are the equal of any stadiums in the country.
The stadiums brought to mind the excitement that the rejuvenated Tigers have brought to Detroit in the last two years, the 2006 World Series and Super Bowl XL and the rave reviews Detroit received for the world class event we staged. (I tried not to think about the Lions.)
Then it was down Broadway, heading past the Detroit Opera Theatre and the bars and restaurants that have brought new life to that area, on to the Renaissance Center that has been transformed by General Motors and the Riverwalk that is sparking a transformation of our riverfront.
Also very noticeable during the walk was how clean the downtown is, something we take for granted today but that is the result of the vision and leadership of Roger Penske and the Downtown Detroit Partnership that he leads.
The changes underway in Detroit are much more than brick and mortar.
Just two years ago we heard a lot of concern about the City's financial shape and speculation about Detroit going into receivership. We don't hear that these days. Instead, we appreciate the tough-minded leadership shown by Mayor Kilpatrick, who made the difficult decisions and negotiated the difficult contracts and has put our city on a much more firm financial footing.
In 1986, the general perception of Detroit was that the momentum was in the other direction. The standing joke was that the last one out of Detroit should turn off the lights.
But there remained those, including myself, who believed Detroit had a future and who believed, and continue to believe, that if we are going to rebuild Michigan, it has to start here, where it all started more than 300 years ago.
We're making the kind of fundamental changes that are required to rebuild Detroit. There is more optimism about Detroit's future than any time in memory.
The continually changing face of Downtown Detroit is proof to me that my confidence was, and is, well placed. I'm looking forward to many more walks with Chrissy as Detroit continues to rebuild itself.