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« Detroit News Roundup for Wednesday, August 22, 2007
» Video of the Woodward Avenue human chain

The glass two thirds full, one third spiteful

08.24.07 | technician | In downtown, demographics

The Detroit Free Press is reporting on a recent survey of suburban Detroiters to see how often and why they do or don’t come into the city.

Nearly two-thirds of residents of suburban Wayne, Oakland and Macomb counties say they at least occasionally dine, attend cultural events or take in professional games in Detroit.

High earners especially come to Detroit for the restaurants. Oakland residents are the most likely to seek out culture such as music, theater or dance in Motown. But the appeal of the city’s three professional sports teams cuts across lines of gender, geography and all but the smallest incomes.

This means that nearly a third of suburbanites never go into the city which shows how strong some people’s anti-Detroit sentiment is and also that there must be a lot of people who simply have no idea what’s going on downtown or how has changed in recent years because they have not seen it.

What would bring more suburban and city residents downtown?

The top answer of both suburban and city residents was more security — despite statistics that show downtown has a relatively low crime rate.

Downtown Detroit has a lower crime rate than suburban America, it just seems more dangerous when you have a lot more people in the same area where you might only have a small handful in the suburbs. Yet there is safety in numbers. Still, something needs to be done:

Still, some say they stay away for fear of violence. Forty-five percent of those surveyed said more security would bring them downtown a lot more, and the opinion crossed race, age, gender and income lines.

Some solutions would be to ensure that there was a critical mass downtown every weekend (a bit of a chicken and egg problem), increase police presence, and increase the visibility of police and security. The latter may simply mean more security cameras.

• Nearly 6 in 10 people earning $85,000 a year or more came into the city at least a couple of times a month. About 80% of the high earners went to Detroit restaurants at least occasionally.

• More than half of people younger than 55 said they came to the city at least a couple of times a month. Those younger than 35 were the most likely to frequently attend pro games or dine in Detroit.

What is it that the financially successful and the streetwise youth know about Detroit that attracts them more than others?

Fifty-seven percent of Detroiters said they would shop downtown a lot more if it had more interesting shopping. And better public transportation would draw 54% of Detroit residents downtown a lot more.

Better public transportation is a citywide as well as a regional issue that may go beyond what needs to be addressed here. As for the retail mix downtown, which is currently mostly upscale and specialty, there may not be room for more everyday chains like Old Navy until the number of specialty shops fill up more of the smaller storefronts throughout downtown which wouldn’t accommodate a bigger store, much less a department store. Although there is certainly room for a smaller department store over on Fort St right now. But if a larger store did decide to open up downtown it would also help with the existing smaller retail.

So how do we reach that one third of the population that so stubbornly refuses to acknowledge this Next Detroit and is keeping their families from enjoying and being involved in Michigan’s urban renaissance?
[via teamowens313]

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« Detroit News Roundup for Wednesday, August 22, 2007
» Video of the Woodward Avenue human chain