No, that image is not a Hallmark Halloween card. It's Detroit as seen by The Economist, which this morning hit us with the headline So cheap, there’s hope: the parable of Detroit. Of course, they begin with the same old disaster scenario: bad census figures, 60,000 vacant homes, collapse of the tax base... etc. So who will save us now? Mayor Bing? Nope! Kresge money? Not quite. Dan Gilbert? Ding, ding, ding! The Economist has a love fest for the building buyer whom they call a pioneer and "remarkable." Says Gilbert, “We have to create a hot urban core, and it is going to happen.”
The Economist pours major props on Gilbert for moving the staff of Quicken Loans downtown, but it is far less smitten with TechTown, our business acceleration organization.
So far, a lot of the business TechTown has incubated has not been particularly high-tech: dry-cleaning businesses and art restoration, as well as a cryogenic tissue-storage facility. It goes on to lose a little Gilbert love over the white yuppie issue. "Considering the fact that the city of Detroit is 83% black (and a further 7% Hispanic), you see an awful lot of white faces around TechTown, and for that matter at Quicken Loans." To wrap it all up, the Economist falls back in love with Detroit by way of cheap real estate and Detroit's most famous former model turned restauranteur. "Phil Cooley is an emblem of this new phenomenon. He has opened Detroit’s nicest new restaurant, Slows Bar B Q, opposite a derelict railway station." Wow. This is really unfortunate. The Economist must have gotten pretty cracked out on pulled pork and picklebacks and Jolly Pumpkin on tap because Slows opened in 2005 which makes it old news. That's really sticking it to Roast which is both nicer and newer (opened 2008). Did someone have a bad steak downtown? In summation, only in Detroit does BBQ save the world. Also mark your calendar for next year because a media ode to Slows has become an annual October event. The Times fell in love just last year at this time. Bets on who will discover Detroit has decent food next year?