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Report: Detroit’s recovery needs to move beyond the downtown core

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And fixing the schools is imperative to the city’s success

Photo by Michelle & Chris Gerard

The narrative of two Detroits is familiar to many within the city: Business and development is growing within the greater downtown area while the neighborhoods continue to struggle. This is covered in great detail in the latest report from Moody’s, which highlights the disparity.

While the population—as well as development—has increased in the downtown core, the population continues to decrease across the rest of the city’s vast landscape. Below, the green shows where the population has increased since 2010, while the red highlights the decline.

“Since 2010, the downtown area has experienced a 28% increase in residents, along with rising income levels and growing employment,” states the report. “A pipeline of large development projects will continue fueling growth. Still, the citywide population is declining and per-capita income is just above 52% of the nation.”

Courtesy of Moody’s

Greater downtown—which includes the areas within New Center, Woodbridge, Lafayette Park, Midtown, and downtown—has about 41,000 residents, which accounts for only six percent of the city’s population of 683,000.

The report points to Ford’s recent investment in the train station and Corktown, as well as the Hudson’s site development under construction, as projects that will help growth.

One of the biggest issues facing the city is the school system, and the reports looks at it as a challenge to the neighborhoods, saying “The deteriorating facilities could become an increasing drag on the city’s revitalization efforts.”

The report notes a few key efforts in expanding development into the neighborhoods, including improving infrastructure, removing blight, improving services (lighting, transportation, etc.), and expanding the Strategic Neighborhoods Fund.

The report can be accessed here.