The Free Press’s John Gallagher looks at the most exciting projects on Detroit’s drawing board f…


WELCOME BACK, IF YOU READ THE FREE PRESS LAST SUNDAY, THERE’S A PROJECT ON THE DRAWING BOARD ESPECIALLY AROUND DOWNTOWN. VERY HAPPY TO HAVE WITH ME THE GUY THAT GETS TO WRITE FOR THIS PROJECT, JOHN GALLAGHER. THANKS, HAPPY NEW YEAR. Devin: THERE’S A LOT TO BE EXCITED ABOUT, IT WOULD SEEM. I GUESS I’M MOSTLY KEEN TO FIND OUT WHAT YOU’RE MOST EXCITED ABOUT. YOU’VE WRITTEN ABOUT A LOT ABOUT WHAT IS COMING. WHAT’S PIQUING YOUR– RIGHT NOW, WHAT’S INTERESTING, WE’VE HAD SO MANY NEW APARTMENT PROJECTS COMING OUT OF THE GROUND RIGHT NOW. PROBABLY A THOUSAND NEW APARTMENT UNITS ARE UNDER CONSTRUCTION RIGHT NOW IN THE GREATER DOWNTOWN WITH ANOTHER 1,000, 15,000 IN THE PLANNING PIPELINE TO START LATER THIS YEAR OR 2017. PROBABLY WITHIN THE NEXT THREE YEARS, WE’LL HAVE ANOTHER 2, 3, 4,000 PEOPLE LIVING IN THE GREATER DOWNTOWN DETROIT AND JUST BASED ON WHAT’S HAPPENING RIGHT NOW? WE’VE REALLY SEEN FOR SOME TIME, A MARKET THAT CAN’T QUITE KEEP UP WITH DEMAND. WHATEVER THE OCCUPANCY RATE IS, WHERE IN THE HIGH 90S. MORE PEOPLE WANT TO BE DOWNTOWN. JUST FIVE YEARS AGO, WE WERE PAYING PEOPLE TO MOVE DOWNTOWN, THE INCENTIVES. NOW YOU CAN’T BUILD FAST ENOUGH. THE ESTIMATES WE NEED 3 TO 5,000 NEW APARTMENTS DOWNTOWN JUST TO MEET DEMAND AND WE’LL PROBABLY GET THAT OVER THE NEXT THREE, FOUR, FIVE YEARS. Devin: THE ONE THAT’S BEEN MOST DRAMATICALLY TAKING SHAPE IN FRONT OF EVERYBODY’S EYES IS ON WOODWARD AND THAT’S THE ARENA DISTRICT, WHICH I THINK IS FASCINATING FOR SO MANY DIFFERENT REASONS. CHIEF AMONG THEM, IT’S NOT JUST AN ARENA, THIS IS REALLY MORE AMBITIOUS THAN I THINK THAT MOST PEOPLE THINK WHEN THEY’RE THAT I GO ABOUT A NEW SPORTS STADIUM. THE ILITCHES HAVE COMMITTED NOT ONLY TO THE ARENA, BUT TO DOZENS AND DOZENS OF ANCILLARY BUILDINGS THAT ARE HOUSING RETAIL AND OFFICE AND COMMERCIAL SPACE. WE HAVE TO GET MORE DETAILS ABOUT THAT AND WHEN IT’S GOING TO HAPPEN AND THEY’VE PAINTED IT OUT IN BROAD BRUSH STROKES AND IT’S EXCITING IF IT HAPPENS. THE IDEA OF CREATING A NEIGHBORHOOD IS REALLY WHAT THEY’RE HOPING TO DO. THAT’S WHAT THEY’RE TALKING ABOUT, RIGHT, RIGHT. Devin: THE M-1 RAIL LINE IS SLIGHTLY DELAYED AND IT’S BEEN A STRUGGLE FOR SOME OF THE BUSINESSES THAT HAVE BEEN TRIED AS THE CONSTRUCTION IS HANGING ON, WAITING FOR THIS MOMENT, BUT WHERE DO YOU SEE ALL OF THAT HEADED? WELL, I THINK THE BIG QUESTION, THE END OF THIS YEAR, THEY’LL HAVE TO VOTE WHETHER TO FUND A REGIONAL TRANSIT SYSTEM, BUS RAPID TRANSIT THROUGHOUT THE REGION AND THAT’S PROBABLY COME ON ON THE BATTLE IN NOVEMBER AND APPEARS IT WILL HAPPEN AND ARE VOTERS GOING TO APPROVE THAT? I THINK IF THEY DO, THE NEXT TEN YEARS WE’LL SEE A MAJOR BUS RAPID TRANSIT SYSTEM THROUGHOUT THE REGION AND THAT WILL BE THE REAL BENEFIT AND IT’S GOING TO BENEFIT THE IMMEDIATE DOWNTOWN. Devin: SURE. AND THE OTHER THING THAT’S INTERESTING ABOUT THE DOWNTOWN AND MID TOWN PICTURE RIGHT NOW IS RETAIL. WE’VE ALL OF A SUDDEN GONE FROM PLACE THAT ALMOST HAD NO RETAIL NOT THAT LONG AGO, NOW THE RETAIL IS OUT OF THE REACH OF A LOT OF SHOPPERS WHEN YOU LOOK AT THE GOODS PEDALED AT JOHN VARVADOS, AND SHINOLA AND LEATHER GOODS, CAN YOU SURVIVE AT THE HIGH END AND NOT IN THE MIDDLE? I WOULD LIKE TO SEE A TARGET MOVE DOWNTOWN. Devin: OFTEN TWO LEVEL, TWO STORY PLACES. TWO, THREE LEVEL. I’D LIKE TO SEE THAT, I THINK THAT WOULD DO AS MUCH GOOD FOR DOWNTOWN, GROCERY SHOPPING AND A HARDWARE STORE, AND WHEN YOU HAVE A REAL NEIGHBORHOOD. I THINK THAT’S WHAT YOU NEED. I THINK IT’S GREAT THAT WE HAVE THE HIGH END STUFF AND LENDS A CERTAIN FLASH TO THE MARKET, BUT WE NEED TO THINK ABOUT BASICS, TOO. Devin: THE RESTAURANT SCENE HAS BECOME SORT OF A STAR WRITTEN ABOUT IN LOTS OF MAGAZINES AND NEWSPAPERS EVERYWHERE. I’VE BEEN ASTONISHED THAT WE DON’T SEE VERY MUCH MISSTEPS, WE KEEP HAVING ONE REALLY GOOD RESTAURANT AFTER ANOTHER OPENING? YEAH, I’M AMAZED, TOO, I THINK THAT GOES TO THE LOCAL FOOD MOVEMENT HERE IN DETROIT AND THE RISE OF EASTERN MARKET AS SORT OF THE CENTERPIECE OF THAT AND THE URBAN AGRICULTURE AND URBAN FOOD ENTREPRENEURS. I THINK THAT’S BEEN A REAL STRONG POINT FOR DETROIT. Devin: LASTLY, ALTHOUGH YOU’VE HAD THIS ONGOING WORRY THAT WE SOMEHOW, TO HAVE TO FOLD THESE STORIES OF SUCCESS IN AND INTEGRATE THEM WITH WHAT’S GOING ON IN THE NEIGHBORHOODS. ARE YOU SEEING ANY SUCCESS IN THAT AREA? WELL, I THINK THAT’S A REAL CONCERN AND THAT THE SUCCESS DOWNTOWN OVER THE NEXT FEW YEARS IS GOING TO FAN THAT DEBATE MORE ABOUT WHO IS BENEFITTING. I THINK YOU’RE ALSO GOING TO SEE MORE COMPLAINTS ABOUT PARKING, PARKING IS TOUGHER THAN IT IS. AND SO IT’S NOT SORT OF A WONDERFUL STORY, THERE’S GOING TO BE SOME BLOWBACK. Devin: KUDOS TO THE DETROIT WORKING APP. IF YOU HAVEN’T USED IT, I FIND

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *