Frank Bruni 

Tell people that you live in New York City, and they ask which neighborhood. Tell them that you lived in Rome, and they ask how you could ever leave.

Tell them that you lived in Detroit, and they ask, “Why?”

They offer condolences. They wonder how quickly you fled. Maybe that’s especially true in my case, because Detroit stands out among the cities I’ve called home over my post-college years: New York, Rome, Detroit, San Diego, San Francisco and Washington, D.C. One of these things is not like the others. One isn’t a beacon and magnet, a synonym for exciting, lucrative or at least balmy times.

That’s exactly what I loved about Detroit. And I did love Detroit, not in an electric way but in the way you love something honest and unforced, the way you love someone who doesn’t wear any masks or makeup and doesn’t insist that you do.

I was there in the early 1990s, and Detroit wasn’t in straits quite as dire as it entered earlier this month, when it became the most populous American city ever to declare bankruptcy. But it was pocked with abandoned houses, riddled with crime, rife with trouble. There was no longer a proper department store within the city limits. There were only a handful of first-run movie theaters.

The city’s plight was best summarized by a pitiful slogan that its boosters put on bumper stickers and the like: “Say Nice Things About Detroit.” As if positive thinking — and positive talking — could save the day.

There is one nice thing in particular I want to say about Detroit, by which I mean not just the city but the broader metropolitan area, including Dearborn to the west, Oakland County to the north and, to the east, the Grosse Pointes, where I lived for two years after three in downtown Detroit. Bereft of vanity, Detroit is bereft, too, of pose and pretense. The people there don’t tether their identities to the luster or mythology of their surroundings. Their self-image isn’t tied to their ZIP codes.

That’s undoubtedly true of many, if not most, American cities, of Cleveland and St. Louis and probably Omaha and maybe Houston.

But if you inhabit the gilded precincts favored by those of us who fancy ourselves power brokers or opinion makers or players of one kind or another, it’s a remarkable thing — and a welcome one.

The political operative in Washington, the financial whiz or magazine editor in New York, the studio executive in Los Angeles, the Internet impresario in Seattle or San Francisco: all are creatures not just of a profession but of a profession that blooms and struts in a given self-regarding place. Many have egos nourished by that terrain, which feeds a hyperawareness of status, a persistent jockeying for position.

And the denizens of cities with inimitable landscapes, nonpareil party scenes or idiosyncratic political sensibilities often bask in that geographic glow, the pride of the Miamian or the Portlander sometimes bleeding into smugness.

I encountered little smugness in Detroit. Sure, there were people who talked boastfully about buying a house in Grosse Pointe Farms rather than Grosse Pointe Park. There were people invested in the cars they drove. This was the Motor City, after all.

But Detroiters didn’t dash as madly to the hot new restaurant. They didn’t chatter as preciously about their preferred summer weekend destination. And that wasn’t just about limited means. It was about different, more down-to-earth priorities.

They lived in the Detroit area not because it puffed them up but because it made sense. Maybe they had family there. Maybe they had other deep roots.

Maybe the Detroit area was where they’d found the best career opportunity at a key moment, and then they went on to build a life around it. That’s what drew me to Detroit: a better job than the one I had in New York.

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Entrepreneurs in Detroit
The M@dison Building in downtown Detroit is home to several startups, incubators and investors.

Detroit may be bruised, but it’s far from broken.

The buckle of the Rust Belt – birthplace of the U.S. auto industry and once the country’s fourth-largest city – is mounting a comeback after decades of decline and decay.

At the heart of the renaissance is a pioneering community of young, high-tech entrepreneurs, many of whom were born and raised in the area and have the Motor City’s “maker” mentality in their blood. These startups and a few of Detroit’s business titans are on a mission to build great companies while rebuilding a great American city, one innovation at a time.

“If you think about the auto industry over a century ago, it was guys in garages seeing what they could create. That was the ‘emerging technology’ of the time," said Tyler Paxton, co-founder of Are You a Human. "That mentality still exists here, generations later. There’s a real interest among people who want to put their hands and minds to work building something. The grandchildren of former auto engineers are churning out tomorrow’s technology and, hopefully, Detroit’s future.”

Martin Dober, senior vice president at the Michigan Economic Development Corporation and the son of a career automan, adds, “The startup community is not only helping the city’s economy. It’s helping to rebuild the entrepreneurial spirit we had 100 years ago but perhaps forgot.”

Paxton, a Detroit native and self-professed tinkerer, returned home in the summer of 2011. His company – which develops mini-games to replace the distorted text websites use to verify their visitors are real people – is thriving alongside other like-minded startups in the M@dison Building downtown. The modernized 1917 structure overlooking Comerica Park, where the Detroit Tigers welcomed 3 million baseball fans last season, is ground zero for the city’s brimming tech scene.

“This is a Detroit many people haven’t heard of before,” Paxton said. “There’s a sense of energy and greater purpose among people who see the rebirth taking place and want to be part of it.”

And Detroit could use all the help it can get. Last week, it became the largest city in U.S. history to file for bankruptcy. The announcement marked the biggest blow yet to a city littered with tens of thousands of abandoned buildings and home to barely 700,000 people – a far cry from its peak of nearly 2 million during the auto boom of the 1950s and 1960s. The shrinking population has eroded Detroit’s tax base, pinching municipal services and sinking the city deeper into debt.

Returning Detroit to its former glory, many believe, will require a shift from a “muscle economy” that has been overly reliant on manufacturing to a “brain economy” rooted in innovation and creativity. That’s where startups fit in.

“The challenge is converting the decades-old employment mentality to a startup mentality,” explained Ross Sanders, executive director at Bizdom, a nonprofit accelerator. “And for any region to thrive, you need a strong urban core anchored by a hub of entrepreneurship and technology.”

Bizdom, which runs a sister operation in another beleaguered Midwestern city – Cleveland, Ohio – backs tech startups through seed investments and an accelerated training and mentorship program. All returns are recycled back into the organization to fund more startups.

“Our role is to feed the ecosystem with startups,” Sanders added. “We handle the heaving lifting early on so the foundation and investor community can do their jobs.”

Bizdom is the brainchild of Quicken Loans founder Dan Gilbert. A third-generation Detroiter, Gilbert is on a crusade to revitalize and rebrand the city’s once-bustling downtown as a high-tech hub. In addition to walking the talk by relocating thousands of Quicken employees from the suburbs, he has acquired more than 7.5 million sq. ft. of depressed downtown real estate, converting high-rises into offices, condos and retail space. He’s now Detroit’s third-largest landowner, behind the city and General Motors.

As a result, downtown Detroit is now a hip-yet-affordable urban destination to live, work and play.

“People used to be afraid of the city,” said Jay Gierak, co-founder of Stik, a social media-powered recommendations and reviews platform. “Now they can’t stay away.”

Gierak and his co-founder Nathan Labenz grew up in Detroit and attended Harvard University. They headed west to Silicon Valley after graduation and successfully launched Stik in 2010 before moving back home to tap into an emerging startup community loaded with hungry engineering and design talent. Stik’s status as a bigger fish in a smaller pond would pay dividends from a recruitment standpoint, they figured.

“We thought, ‘We can go to Detroit and hire the best people or stay in San Francisco and pick up Google and Facebook’s scraps,'” Gierak said.

They opted for the former, relocating in October 2012 and never looking back. Stik has since expanded from four to 14 employees and continues to grow its business thanks, in part, to the close-knit nature of the community.

“It’s something we didn’t expect and have been a bit overwhelmed by,” Gierak added. “When you tell someone in San Francisco that you work for a startup, unless you’re Twitter, you’re yesterday’s news. But in Detroit, people say, ‘That’s great! How can I help?’”

Ted Serbinski moved to Detroit from San Francisco in 2011 to join Detroit Venture Partners, where he invests in seed-stage software startups. Co-founded by Gilbert, the VC firm backs many of the Big D’s up-and-comers – including Are You a Human – and works shoulder-to-shoulder with several of its portfolio companies in the M@dison (owned by, you guessed it, Gilbert).

An experienced entrepreneur who co-founded and later sold ParentsClick to Lifetime Television, Serbinski had been eyeing a move to Boston, Chicago or Washington, D.C. when his wife, a Michigan native, suggested Detroit.

“I laughed at first,” he recalled.

Weeks later, he read a story on the newly formed Detroit Venture Partners. His interest now piqued, he stopped through downtown while visiting his in-laws.

“I was blown away by the passion I saw,” he said. “It was energizing to realize I could play a hands-on role in investing in startups and rebuilding a city. You can’t get much more entrepreneurial than that.”

Click HERE for the full article! 
Crowne Plaza hotel
The renovated Crowne Plaza hotel hopes to draw visitors to downtown Detroit.(Photo: Jarrad Henderson Detroit Free Press)

In its glory days, the Pontchartrain Hotel in Detroit, affectionately referred to by locals as the Pontch, played host to presidents, Motown stars and executives of the auto industry that fueled the city's economy.

In 2009, the legendary hotel fell into foreclosure after years of mismanagement. From then on, it stood barren, hovering over the skyline as a constant reminder of how easily fortunes can turn in the Motor City.

It's a familiar story in Detroit, which this month became the largest U.S. municipality to file for bankruptcy protection.

Just like the city, the Pontch is trying to make a comeback, this time as the Crowne Plaza Detroit Downtown Convention Center, a 25-story, 367-room hotel that opened July 18 with more than 10,000 square feet of meeting space, two restaurants, a lounge and an upscale café.

Detroit might be in bankruptcy, but its hotel industry is on an upward trajectory. Three casino hotels have opened in recent years. A new Starwood Aloft hotel is set to open next year in a landmark building in Grand Circus Park downtown. And developers have proposed turning a historic firehouse across from the Cobo Convention Center into a boutique hotel.

The Cobo Center itself, home to the annual North American International Auto Show, is undergoing a $290 million renovation, which tourism officials hope will attract more conferences and business travelers when completed at the end of 2014.

Other private investment in downtown and midtown Detroit by such business leaders as Quicken Loans owner Dan Gilbert is also revitalizing those areas. Gilbert has snagged more than 7 million square feet of property downtown, with plans to develop cafes and other attractions. And through a public-private partnership, a new 18,000-seat arena for the Detroit Red Wings has gotten the green light in midtown, with an accompanying entertainment district.

Tech start-up companies have also emerged on the scene, luring young employees and entrepreneurs. And General Motors, which is headquartered downtown, is also stepping up its hiring as demand for new vehicles grows. All the activity has led to a budding arts and music scene.

Michael O'Callaghan, chief operating officer of the Detroit Convention and Visitors Bureau, says demand is already strong for hotel rooms, even without the revamped convention center.

Hotel occupancy rates in the metropolitan Detroit area have gone from 47.5% in 2009, when General Motors and Chrysler filed for bankruptcy protection, to 61.3% so far this year, according to hotel industry tracking firm STR. That's in line with the national average. Last month, hotel occupancy levels reached 70.3%.

Click HERE for full article!

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By Comstock

The term “bankruptcy” might make some college students reconsider finding employment in Detroit after graduation, but not all young adults will count out the Motor City, some city experts say.

Although the city filed for Chapter 9 bankruptcy Thursday, it won’t be enough to scare away Millennials looking for employment after graduation, says Benjamin Erulkar, vice president of economic development for the Detroit Regional Chamber.

The organization released results from a survey in June of 7,000 young adults who graduated from a Michigan college or university and found that 63% planned to stay in the Mitten — a 12% increase from a similar survey in 2007.

Erulkar says many while young adults will take Detroit’s recent filing into consideration when making their first location decision after graduation, they should realize the city’s action only formalizes what many Michiganders have known for a while — Detroit’s going through some hard economic times.

“We regard bankruptcy at the chamber as a serious but necessary measure that is the first step for Detroit’s fiscal recovery,” he said.

Yet that’s what Jeanette Pierce, director of community relations for D:hive, an organization that provides information and tours of Detroit, says is the best part — Millennials will have the opportunity to be a part of getting the city back on its feet.

“They want to be a part of something bigger,” she says. “It’s a selling point.”

Click HERE for full article!

Originating from Flint, Mich., Grand Funk Railroad will create “Some Kind of Wonderful” when they take the stage for the 2013 Chevrolet Rockin’ on the Riverfront free concert series on Friday, July 26. The concert, presented by Detroit’s #1 for Classic Rock 94.7 WCSX-FM, will rock the riverfront stage starting a 7:30 p.m. with opener Steve Kostan of WCSX.

At its sweat-dripping best, the legendary rock band Grand Funk emits a surging, elemental blast of hard rock heat. The top selling American rock group of the 70’s generally acknowledged as one of the precursors to heavy metal, Grand Funk laid the groundwork for such bands as Foreigner, Journey, Van Halen and Bon Jovi with its signature hard driving sound, a combination of soulful vocals, muscular instrumentation and forceful pop melodies.

The fact that Grand Funk’s legacy still looms large over the pop music landscape more than 30 years after its 1969 birth in Flint, Mich. is also a testament to the group’s influence and staying power. Mega-hits "We’re An American Band," "I’m Your Captain/Closer To Home," "Locomotion," and "Some Kind Of Wonderful" still receive continuous airplay on classic rock radio.

Over their career, Grand Funk has had 19 charted singles, 8 Top 40 hits and two Number One singles ("We’re An American Band" and "Locomotion," both selling more than one million each). The group has 12 gold and 10 platinum records with record sales in excess of 25 million copies sold worldwide.

Spanning six consecutive Friday evenings, 2013 Chevrolet Rockin’ on the Riverfront offers more than free concerts. Located in the heart of the city, between the GM Renaissance Center and Detroit River, the event has become a summer destination for dining and entertainment in Detroit. Upcoming shows include:

Aug. 2: Great White (Once Bitten Twice Shy, Rock Me)

Aug. 9: Loverboy (Working for the Weekend, Turn Me Loose)

Aug. 16: Night Ranger (Sister Christian, (You Can Still) Rock in America)

Admission to the concerts is always free and no tickets are necessary. Viewing space is offered on a first-come, first-served basis. Attendees are encouraged to bring their own lawn chairs and blankets, but outside food, beverages and coolers are not permitted. In addition, boaters on the Detroit River are welcome to anchor near the riverfront and enjoy the shows from the water.

Andiamo Detroit Riverfront will provide refreshments and food concessions at several locations across the plaza. Andiamo Detroit Riverfront and Joe Muer Seafood will accept dinner reservations before and after the concert and both restaurants offer outdoor patios overlooking the Detroit River and the Rockin’ on the Riverfront stage.

Convenient parking is available for $5 per vehicle, starting at 5 p.m., at the GM surface lot at the intersection of St. Antoine and Atwater streets, adjacent to the GM Renaissance Center.

The Detroit Marriott at the Renaissance Center is offering an incredible package during the concerts. The Marriott-Andiamo Romance Retreat package includes a four-course dinner at Andiamo Detroit Riverfront and overnight accommodations at the Detroit Marriott at the Renaissance Center. For reservations call (888) 313-5001 and mention promotional code WN9 or visit The Detroit Marriott at the Renaissance Center online.

Listen to 94.7 WCSX each week during Rockin’ on the Riverfront for a chance to win VIP seats, a catered dinner by Andiamo, and meet and greet opportunities with the bands. Additionally, new to the event this year is Veterans Row. Veterans are invited to log onto, fill out an online form sharing where he or she served or is currently serving and WCSX will pull weekly winners to sit in the 94.7 WCSX Veterans Row for each Rockin’ on the Riverfront concert this summer.

Fans are invited to watch FOX 2 in the Morning every week to enter a FOX 2 EXPOSED contest for a chance to win a VIP prize package, which includes two (2) VIP access wristbands and lanyards with front-row seats, dinner for two (2) at Andiamo Detroit Riverfront in the Rockin’ on the Riverfront VIP section (the evening of the concert only), overnight accommodations for two (2) at The Detroit Marriott at the Renaissance Center (the evening of the concert only, and excludes the July 26, 2013 concert), free parking in the Beaubien Garage located on Beaubien Street (the evening of the concert only), WCSX 94.7 FM freebies, and a band meet-and-greet (if available). To enter, access the online contest entry form on and follow instructions.

In addition to Chevrolet, the 2013 Chevrolet Rockin’ on the Riverfront concert series is sponsored in partnership with Detroit’s #1 for Classic Rock 94.7 WCSX-FM, Quicken Loans, McDonald’s After Midnight, Metro PCS, and WJBK FOX 2.

For updates and information, visit and or
The cover of the August 5, 2013 issue of TIME, featuring a photo by Dave Jordano.

To illustrate this week’s cover story on the city of Detroit’s fight to survive, TIME turned to the work of photographer Dave Jordano. A second-generation Detroit native living in Chicago, Jordano returned to his home city three years ago with a mission: not to photograph what’s been destroyed, but to record what’s been left behind and the lives of those coping with it. The photographer spoke with LightBox producer Vaughn Wallace on Tuesday; their conversation has been condensed and edited below. 

I’m from Detroit originally. I was born there in 1948 and then grew up in Royal Oak, a suburb of the city. At one time my father was an auto-worker in the Packard Automotive Plant, and after they went out of business, he went to work for GM. I studied photography at the Center for Creative Studies, which is an art school in downtown Detroit.

In 2010, I started seeing all these books about the abandonment and ruination of the city. They were all so empty! I thought, God, this is such a lopsided point of view. The whole idea of what’s come to be known as ruin porn is fascinating and sensual, but it masks the real problem of what’s happening in Detroit. Because the pictures are so beautiful and captivating, it’s easy to overlook their real meaning.

I was disturbed by that. While living in Chicago for 30 years, I never went back to Detroit. I never experienced the slow progression, degradation and emptying of the city firsthand. It never occurred to me this was happening until I got the idea to go back and re-photograph the same scenes and architecture I shot as a student in the 1970s.

I had all these negatives with the addresses written down on the sleeves — I knew exactly where they were. So for a week and a half, I completed an entire re-photography project. I had reacquainted myself with the city and was shocked at what I saw. I was drawn in and immediately started shooting the same subject matter as my predecessors, but then I realized that I was contributing nothing to the story of the city.

I asked myself: what can I contribute to Detroit that’s different? What angle can I take that’s more humanistic, more compassionate, than what all these people are coming here to do? I began thinking about the neighborhoods: what about the people who still live here? How are they coping?

So I switched directions.

Click HERE for the full article!
Detroit's New Meijer

 Whole Foods Markets appears to have given Detroit neighborhoods near Wayne State University a shot in the arm with its recent opening. But the potentially far more significant opening has occurred this week, several miles away, as Meijer sets up shop at the intersection of the two most iconic thoroughfares in Detroit: Woodward WWD +2.07% Avenue and Eight Mile Road.

At at time of great hand-wringing in Detroit over the city’s Chapter 9 bankruptcy filing, the establishment of such a significant retail anchor in a crucial area could be a real boon. And Meijer, which used the supercenter concept including groceries long before Walmart did, is really good at running its stores.

The Meijer brand is relatively unknown outside its base in Flyover Country, where it operates more than 200 supercenters in Michigan, Ohio, Indiana, Illinois and Kentucky. But metro Detroit denizens all have known Grand Rapids, Mich.-based Meijer as the place to go over the decades for good prices and selection of not only CPG fare but all sorts of consumer goods.

And now, after much lobbying by Detroit, Meijer plans to open its very first outlet there: a 215,000-square-foot store that will offer thousands of residents their best and closest access to Meijer’s wide selection and low prices and, specifically, to the fresh produce that lately has been lacking in many areas of the city—and in other “produce deserts” in big cities around the country.

The opening can be expected to boost Meijer as much as it does shopping in Detroit. “From the standpoint of demographics, I think it’s a brilliant location,” Dale Watchowski, CEO of developer Redico LLC, told Crain’s Detroit Business. “What it’s doing is tapping a market that was previously underserved for grocery.”

Click HERE for the full article! 

Fun times. Good cause. Great City.

Join Forward Arts and our friends Belle Isle Conservancy Emerging Patrons Council, D:hive,, Detroit Harmonie and YNPN Detroit (Young Nonprofit Professionals Network) in raising our glasses to our city turning - 312! All event profits will be donated to Belle Isle Conservancy.

Rodin's Chef Kate Williams will be putting together some special food and drink items, specifically for this event (special menu below). Make sure to feast on them! And at 6:30, we will have the Official Birthday Toast from Amy Elliott Bragg, author of Hidden History of Detroit. A "toast" professional if you will.

Jen Rohde (Dorkwave!)
Hairy Nilsson and Linnsanity (Detroit Soul set)
More TBA

Suggested $7 Donation | All Event Profits To Belle Isle Conservancy

Rodin Menu For "Detroit Love". (Nom-Nom. Gulp-Gulp.)

Rabbit Chili Coney - $5 (Winner of Top Chef Detroit: Coney Edition by Detroit Harmonie)
Rodin 75 - $6 (Gin, Chambord ((French black raspberry liqueur)), Lemon, Sugar, and Champagne)
Red, white, and rose wine - $5 a glass
Beef and Brie Melt - $7
Rodin Salad - $6 (Local Greens, Shaved Apple, Gruyere Cheese, Creamy Tarragon Dressing)
Of course, Rodin's regular menu will be in effect as well. Eat Up!

Click HERE for more information! 

Don't Let Bankruptcy Fool You: Detroit's Not Dead


As I've written here on Cities, Detroit's downtown urban core is seeing more investment, economic activity and an influx of talent than it has in decades. This revitalization is concentrated and spotty and it is far from inclusive, but it is certainly something positive, generating jobs, revenue and much-needed hope and optimism that provide a foundation to build upon.

The broader metropolitan region is home to huge assets – truly great research universities, world-class research, development and design capabilities, abundant musical and creative talent, a great global airport, and, after years of neglect, a massive effort to invest in and revitalize its downtown core.

Of course many of these assets are concentrated outside the city, in its suburbs and adjacent communities and metro areas such as Ann Arbor and Lansing. And for that reason, the real key to the city's rebirth will depend on true regional cooperation. For too long the city and its suburbs have been beset by racial and class division, at times stoked by divisive politicians from both sides. The city's looming bankruptcy provides the deep crisis that may at long last be the spur for the regional cooperation from the suburbs and outlying areas that long-run recovery requires.

Over the weekend, a number commentators have suggested there is a way forward beyond the city's fiscal crisis. Here are a few of my own reasons why the bankruptcy may signal a turning point for the city and region:

A fiscal crisis and an economic crisis aren't the same thing. Bankruptcy is a restart, not a defeat.

Detroit is not the first city on the verge bankruptcy, nor will it be the last. New York's suffered near-bankruptcy in 1975 and has recovered in ways few could have imagined at the time. Orange County, California, also recovered after suffering the nation's third-largest municipal bankruptcy to date in 1994.

Detroit has been in economic crisis for decades. But a fiscal crisis is a crisis of municipal budgets; It reflects a long history of decline and overspending. But it is not the same thing as an economic crisis. In fact, it is occurring at a point when the city and region's economy actually looks to be turning upward. And it will likely help the city's turnaround by cleaning out the fiscal mess.

The ingredients for long-run economic recovery are already present in the region.

As a metropolitan region, Detroit has the assets needed to underpin economic recovery. While the decline of the auto industry left it reeling, the region has strengths that enable it to reposition for the knowledge economy. The broad region is home to more than 5 million people and produces nearly $200 billion in economic output.* Its economy is larger than New Zealand's and not too much smaller than that of Hong Kong or Singapore. There are substantial concentrations of talent: about 34.5 percent of the entire metro area's workers are members of the creative class, slightly above the national average. Its older suburbs like Birmingham, Royal Oak and Ferndale – which stand as textbook examples of mixed-used walkable communities – have concentrations of of talent and human capital that rival creative centers like San Francisco, Washington D.C., and Boston. The Greater Detroit region has also shown a persistent ability to attract global talent in the form of new immigrants – another big asset that differentiates it from many other economically hard hit metros.

The region has world-class cultural and educational institutions. Downtown there's the Detroit Institute of Arts and Wayne State University. Much more has been concentrated in the suburbs. There's the Cranbrook educational community in Bloomfield Hills, the great for art, architecture and design. Michigan State is in East Lansing; the University of Michigan in nearby Ann Arbor. In the last few years, Ann Arbor itself has boomed, with a high rate of startup activity and a top-tier ranking among small metros on my creativity index.

The size and scale of the region's economy, the quality of knowledge institutions, its International airport, and openness to global talent put Detroit in a different category than other hard-pressed Rustbelt cities.

Bankruptcy is not likely to disrupt the flow of capital, technology and talent back to the urban center.

Click HERE for the full article! 

While Detroit has now earned the notorious distinction of being the largest municipality ever to file bankruptcy in U.S. history, over the years its food, arts and cultural scene has been thriving. Business owners and community members have been hard at work trying to push for a rebirth of the Rust Belt town, and as a result has created a city filled with unique cultural and culinary treasures. Here are 10 great reasons to visit Detroit --and not to write it off:

1. Eastern Market

The largest historic public market in the U.S. is located just outside of downtown Detroit. While Eastern Market draws in crowds of over 45,000 every Saturday, there’s a lot more to this market than just the produce vendors and flower peddlers. Make sure you come to the market hungry, as it’s also home to Supino Pizzeria, a neo-Italian pizzeria that uses ingredients from local producers and has been featured on Guy Fieri’s “Diners, Drive-Ins and Dives”. “Mad Men's” Christina Hendricks (the sultry Joan Holloway), recently in town for a film shoot, also called it the best she has ever had. Next door to Supino is Russell Street Deli, a vegetarian and vegan-friendly breakfast and lunch spot where everything is made from scratch. Eastern Market is home to several locally-famous corned beef producers, and Russell Street is probably best known for its house-cooked Sy Ginsberg corned beef.

Lately Eastern Market's reach has gone beyond that of a local food hub. Art galleries, independent boutiques, maker spaces, and old-fashioned letterpress shops (two of them) have been springing up in the market over the last few years. Check out Inner State Gallery, which has been spearheading a public mural movement throughout Detroit and are currently focused on Eastern Market, their new home. Be sure to also check out the Red Bull House of Art, Signal-Return, Salt & Cedar, and Detroit Mercantile Co.

2. Corktown

Detroit is big on its by-the-bootstraps innovation, and nowhere is that more evident than in Corktown—one of the city’s oldest neighborhoods. Without any kind of corporate investment, Corktown has managed to transform itself from an area people once merely drove through to get to the old Tigers Stadium to a destination unto itself. Slows BAR BQ has been an anchor business on Michigan Avenue, and co-owner Phil Cooley has received quite a bit of press for this game-changing barbecue and craft beer bar – which helped spur further development along the corridor, including pre-Prohibition-themed craft cocktail bar Sugar House and artisan hipster coffee joint Astro Coffee. But he’s won kudos also for his work in launching Ponyride, a collaborative workspace providing affordable office and studio space to socially-conscious entrepreneurs and artists who all have the good of the greater Detroit community in mind. While you're at Ponyride, get a pour-over from Anthology Coffee, a local roaster that uses exquisitely sourced beans and serves probably the best cup of coffee in Michigan.

Click HERE for the full article!

NPR: Not All The News About Detroit Is Bad

Even as newscasts and newssites are using Detroit's bankruptcy filing to talk about Motown's "meltdown," we've found these stories:

-- "What Detroit Has Going For It." Brookings Institution fellow Jennifer Bradley tells The Washington Post that in the city's "downtown/midtown area, along the Woodward corridor spine ... there's a lot of good stuff happening."

-- "For Detroit, This May Be A Real Comeback." MSN News writes that "described as the epitome of dire straits and decimated by financial ruin, the city is actually steeped in a promising revival. Really."

-- "City Benefits From Strength Of Orr's Preparation." Detroit Free Press columnist Stephen Henderson looks at the work done by the city's state-appointed emergency manager, Kevyn Orr.

-- "5 Reasons Not To Give Up On Detroit." MarketWatch takes a detour from the serious financial issues to focus more on cultural matters. Detroit, it declares, is 1) a great sports town; 2) a great music town (from The Supremes to Kid Rock and more); 3) home to "glorious, if often desolate, art deco high-rises; 4) a great party town; and 5) the place for "the best Greek food this side of Heraklion."

Click HERE for the full article! 
Why You Might (Still) Want to Consider Launching in Detroit


To be sure, Detroit is not for everyone. If you're looking to launch your business in a pristine city, where the government can provide cushy resources, it's not the place for you. But, there are many good reasons for entrepreneurs to stay in or move to the Motor City. Here are a few:

It’s cheap. For now. “The burn rate in Michigan is a fraction of what it is in Boston, New York, Silicon Valley, Chicago and frankly many other locations,” says Mike Finney, the president and chief executive of the Michigan Economic Development Corporation, a public-private partnership advocating for business in the state.

And it may not be this cheap forever. “This is a ground-floor opportunity for individuals who want to live, work and play, and find opportunities to do it at a cost that you will probably never see again,” says Finney. The population exodus that Detroit has suffered means a lot of office space was left vacant, and empty buildings are being rehabilitated into working space, says Finney.

For example, Dan Gilbert, the chairman and founder of Quicken Loans Inc. and majority owner of the NBA’s Cleveland Cavaliers, has bought more than 30 buildings in downtown Detroit. “Those buildings are all being rehabbed and occupied by businesses at a rate that is just staggering,” says Finney.

Detroit’s airwaves aren’t glutted. “You don’t have the media outlets getting pitched every minute of every day by new startup ideas and new startups to cover,” says Cohen. “It’s a nice platform to get national press.” There’s also plenty of local press, including the Detroit News and Crain’s Detroit Business.

There is a growing sense of new, young energy with a frontier spirit. For the first time in more than three decades, young people are staying in Michigan. “Young people left forever, and now they are staying,” says Cohen.

When Cohen moved into an apartment in downtown Detroit in Feb. 2011, he had the upper hand in negotiating his rent. Now, he says, there are waiting lists at downtown apartment buildings. That's partly due to limited supply. People haven’t historically wanted to live in downtown Detroit. Lately, innovative companies are increasingly interested in investing in the city center over the suburbs, and they are attracting the younger set.

Michigan has always been a manufacturing hub. “Michigan does have a tremendous legacy of entrepreneurial activity,” says Finney, ticking off icons Henry Ford, W.K. Kellogg and Charles Stewart Mott.

The state has a history of, and infrastructure for, making things, says Rick DeVos, CEO of Grand Rapids, Mich.-based Start Garden, a seed fund that distributes $5,000 loans to startups. "The whole state is rediscovering its entrepreneurial muscles," says DeVos. "A hundred years ago, Detroit was the Silicon Valley of the world."

The startup community is relatively small. The number of startups in Detroit is small compared to cities like New York or San Francisco. That means less competition. “You have the ear of first customers potentially,” says Cohen.

You can play a role in the comeback story. Entrepreneurs go out on their own because they want to make a difference. In Detroit's less crowded startup ecosystem, you have an opportunity to make a difference. “You build a successful tech company, and you are bringing back a region,” says Cohen. “It’s a startup community on the rise. You are basically going to be riding a wave of growth.”

Click HERE for the full article! 
Crowne Plaza Detroit Downtown Convention Cente
Crowne Plaza Detroit Downtown Convention Center, formerly the Hotel Pontchartrain, opened Wednesday after a $5 million renovation.

A historic hotel has reopened in Detroit.

The Crowne Plaza Detroit Downtown Convention Center, formerly the Hotel Pontchartrain, opened Wednesday at 2 Washington Blvd. across the street from the Cobo Center, after a $5 million renovation to its rooms, lobby and restaurant.

The hotel has a new owner - the Mexican and European investors group Pontchartrain Detroit Hotel LLC. It is operated by Equity Hospitality Management and franchised by an affiliate of InterContinental Hotels Group.

Click HERE for the full article! 
We Love Detroit, Even If You Don't

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For more information, click HERE

This 1973 photo of five children playing in a Detroit suburb has gone viral on the Internet. The children were Rhonda Shelly, 3 (from left), Kathy Macool, 7, Lisa Shelly, 5, Chris Macool, 9, and Robert Shelly, 6.
This 1973 photo of five children playing in a Detroit suburb has gone viral on the Internet. The children were Rhonda Shelly, 3 (from left), Kathy Macool, 7, Lisa Shelly, 5, Chris Macool, 9, and Robert Shelly, 6.
Joe Crachiola/Courtesy of The Macomb Daily

In late July 1973, Joseph Crachiola was wandering the streets of Mount Clemens, Mich.,, a suburb of Detroit, with his camera. As a staff photographer for the Macomb Daily, he was expected to keep an eye out for good feature images — "those little slices of life that can stand on their own."

The slice of life he caught that day was a picture of five young friends in a rain-washed alley in downtown Mount Clemens. And what distinguishes it are its subjects: three black children, two white ones, giggling in each others' arms.

"It was just one of those evenings," Crachiola remembers. "I saw these kids — they were just playing around. And I started shooting some pictures of them. At some point, they saw me and they all turned and looked at me and struck that pose that you see in the picture. It was totally spontaneous. I had nothing to do with the way they arranged themselves."

This week, Crachiola, who now lives in New Orleans, posted the vintage photo on his Facebook page.

"For me, it still stands as one of my most meaningful pictures," he wrote in his post. "It makes me wonder... At what point do we begin to mistrust one another? When do we begin to judge one another based on gender or race? I have always wondered what happened to these children. I wonder if they are still friends."

After several days when the world seemed to be reduced to one big argument about race, the elegantly simple photo hit a nerve — in a good way.

After his Sunday post, Crachiola's Facebook page blew up — as many as 100,000 page views. Six thousand "likes" and thousands of shares. The Macomb Daily reprinted the photo on its Web page and sent someone to the archives to help identify the children, who are now middle-aged.

Click HERE for the full article! 

The Belle Isle Conservancy, in partnership with the Detroit Recreation Department, is launching a new program -- Belle Isle Summer Saturdays (BLISS) -- to bring new energy to one of Metro Detroit's most popular parks. BLISS will take place on July 20, August 17 and September 21 (third Saturday of the month during the summer).

In addition to enjoying all that Belle Isle already offers on Saturdays, visitors will have opportunities to attend yoga classes, get tours of the island, rent kayaks and bikes, purchase food from food trucks, adopt rescued dogs, and much more. All programming is being undertaken in partnership with Detroit area non-profits, small businesses, corporations, community groups and individuals.

One special program is the “Beauty of Belle Isle Art Contest.” The contest will kick off on July 20, and Detroiters are asked to submit artwork (photos, drawings, sculptures, etc.) into the contest. Winners will win cash prizes and works of art will be on display at the finale event on September 21.

In efforts to transform the island, several existing volunteer groups have combined to form The Belle Isle Conservancy (BIC). The Conservancy has begun to mobilize resources to reinvest in the park and provide a positive experience for thousands of park user who return year after year.

Michele Hodges, president of the Belle Isle Conservancy states, “BLISS is a great opportunity for Metro-Detroit residents to experience this beautiful landmark and really enjoy Belle Isle. Many activities like these take place in other parks across the country and we’re happy to be able to create this experience for Detroiters.”

The Belle Isle Summer Series is made possible by the generous support of The GM Foundation and Kresge Foundation. Additional partners include: Project for Public Spaces, D: Hive, Detroit River Sports, Detroit Bus Company, Detroit Dog Rescue, Arts & Scraps, WDET, and the Detroit Riverfront Conservancy.

Attendees should visit the information tent, located at the Belle Isle Aquarium, for brochures, maps, and full details. BLISS hours of operation are 10 a.m. – 5 p.m. (see website for times). Organizations and businesses looking to participate, contact Tatiana Grant at: (248) 514-9620 or

About the Belle Isle Conservancy

The mission of the Belle Isle Conservancy (BIC) is to protect, preserve, restore and enhance the natural environment, historic structures and unique character of Belle Isle as a public park for the enjoyment of all – now and forever. For more information about BIC, visit:

Find the full activity schedule in the chart below:

Additional Information
Art contest
Throughout Island

Submissions accepted via website.  Prizes are: 1st place - $500, 2nd place - $350, 3rd - $100
Arts & Scraps
1 - 3 p.m.

Bike Rental
Belle Isle Aquarium
11 a.m. - 5 p.m.
$15 for 2 hours

DIA Inside/Out
Throughout Island


Dog adoptions
Dossin Museum
11 a.m. - 2 p.m.

Aug. 17 only
Dossin Museum
Dossin Museum


Food trucks
Fleming’s Way (in front of Conservatory)
11 a.m. - 4 p.m.
Based on menu

Football 101 Training
Athletic Fields

Aug. 17 only
Giant Slide

$1/ride or $5/6 rides

Guided Tours
Starts at information booth infront of Belle Isle Aquarium
11 a.m. - 2 p.m.

Kayak Rental
Belle Isle Beach
10 a.m. - 8 p.m.
Single kayak - $15/hour, $50/all day  Tandem (2 people) - $20/hour, $65 all day

Painting Class
In front of Belle Isle White House
11 a.m. - 1 p.m.
$15 donation
 Aug. 17 only
Park Clean-Up/Stewardship Day
Meet at Nature Zoo
9 a.m. - 12 p.m.

Segway Rental
Behind Belle Isle White House
1 - 6 p.m.
$35/hour plus $300 unit damage deposit
Helmets and closed-toe shoes required.  Must weigh between 100 and 260 lbs.
E. side of Belle Isle Casino
10 - 11 a.m.

Well, word came this morning that Detroit did not get the X-Games, losing out to Austin and a single-venue experience as opposed to the downtown multi-venue experience that was pitched as part of the Detroit bid.

However, word is the effort of all of those thousands of people won’t go for naught. In true Detroit fashion, the creators of the Detroit bid have decided to create an event of their own. Details are still coming together, but we’re going to guess we’ll learn more after that mysterious countdown clock on their website ticks off.

Click HERE for the full article! 

Packard Plant Development In The Works (video)????

The skeletal remains of the rusting Packard plant in Detroit might soon have a new owner.

Built in 1911 by the legendary architect Albert Kahn, the factory produced luxurious automobiles throughout the early 1900s. It has since fallen into ruin, becoming a mecca for urban explorers and metal scrappers.

Although there have been previous talks and plans proposed for the plant (from Phil Cooley to the current owner) the newest has been spearheaded by Bill Hults, a developer from Evanston, Ill.

According to Christine Macdonald at the Detroit News, Hults wants to rehabilitate the deteriorating structure and save as many of the buildings as possible. Nearby, he wants to build multi-family housing and envisions turning the area into a mixed-use development with businesses, shops, and restaurants.

Skeptics might think the Packard Plant is beyond repair, but Hults believes otherwise. He has retained the same architectural firm that built the original – Albert Kahn Associates – and they insist that the concrete “bones” of the building are still holding up.

Click HERE to read the full article!