February 2nd, 2015 at 1:04 PM ^

Pay this man a reasonable wage so he can afford a shitty car to drive to work. And put some money towards a functional bus system rather than this ridiculous people-mover 2.0 light rail that caters to only the richest people in Detroit.


February 2nd, 2015 at 1:50 PM ^

Except you're the only one engaging in class warfare by describing college students and the mostly young population downtown as 'rich.' The fact that there are actually people like you out there who think it's a mistake to invest in the only area of Detroit that's actually adding population in 40 years is such a huge problem.

Cities need tax revenue to be functional. For that they need taxpayers. I'm sorry that you hate that. There's absolutely an argument to be made that the suburbs should contribute more to regional transit, but that's not remotely what you're saying.


February 2nd, 2015 at 2:28 PM ^

Detroit has chosen to price out and physically kick out the poorer members of the community and replace it with unnecessarily lavish housing and building units.

The population coming in may be young, but if you can afford $1000+ a month for a one bedroom aparment while shopping at whole foods for your groceries, then you are "rich."


February 2nd, 2015 at 2:41 PM ^


"Unnecessarily lavish"? That would only be true if nobody moved into them.

I feel like you're not thinking good. You should think gooder. Here's some help: they would be unnecessarily lavish if they were more lavish than necessary (see how that works?) to get people to move into them (at the same price, if you want to be precise).

To review, the fact that people move in to them does absolutely nothing to tell us whether or not they are more lavish than necessary. Nothing. Zip. Zilch. Nada.


February 2nd, 2015 at 2:48 PM ^

There is only one valid determinant of what's too lavish or not and only one--the person that moves into it. It's this thing called supply and demand: if something is too lavish or expensive no one will live there. If it's not nice enough (as judged legitimately only by the buyer) then no one will move ther either. Investors and builders, who have the money at risk, are far better judges of what people want than you.


February 2nd, 2015 at 2:49 PM ^

Sooo....are you ascribing an overabundance of generosity to the developers, who build something that is more lavish than it needs to be and charge too little for it?  Thus allowing people who couldn't afford such a decadent lifestyle to now be able to afford it?

I think the whole conversation works better once we all realize that TSMH was using "lavish" as a synonym for "pricey."  I doubt he'd have a problem if, out of the goodness of their heart, someone came in and spend scads of money fixing up the run-down places people live in to any level of lavishness desired, up to and including "Saudi oil baron palace" and let them pay the same price to continue living there.


February 2nd, 2015 at 2:52 PM ^

and trust me, that is pretty much the starting price for housing in midtown/downtown, then you are pricing out many of the people who work for the start ups that are coming into detroit. Instead, you are mandating that only a certain subset of people can afford to live in detroit--the mid to upper middle class.

My girlfriend started at Cambell Ewald on a salary of ~$30k. There's no way she could afford to live downtown without help from her parents. Many of her coworkers, without the luxury of having help from their parents, were forced to live outside the city limits, taking away very useful tax base. 


February 2nd, 2015 at 3:25 PM ^

Well, they weren't really forced outside the city limits.  There's housing available in the city - even in stabler, decent neighborhoods - that's affordable at that salary.  What you're saying is they couldn't move into a specific neighborhood they wanted to move into.  I also disagree it took away useful tax base.  Someone with more means moved into the housing, that's all - and more means = more income tax revenue than your girlfriend's coworkers would've brought to that particular property.

I'm afraid I don't have a lot of sympathy for the argument that someone couldn't move to an area they wanted to move into.  I'm more sympathetic when we're talking about people who already live there, and gentrification brings a certain set of problems for current residents of the area which are worth addressing.  But I don't think those problems outweigh the consideration of turning a run-down area into a nice one.


February 2nd, 2015 at 3:40 PM ^

--which is what Detroit is essentially doing because they have no qualms about removing the things and people from areas they want to redevelop--then you have a choice about whether or not you want to maximize profit or create an interesting city full of people from diverse socioeconomic backgrounds. My phrase "unnecessarily lavish" is trying to say that you can choose to build units for $1k or $2k, or you could choose to build units for less than that and still make money.

Detroit is not a corporation that needs to maximize it's profit margins. It is a city that is trying to rebuild, but has sold itself to corporations.

And as I said, that is one way to go about rebuilding, and likely has the best chance of "working" in terms of turning Detroit into something that an outsider deems a viable city. But it is not helping current residents of Detroit. Instead, it is kicking current residents out of Detroit and bringing in new people who will one day be the new, homogenous Detroit that has no connection to Detroit's past history.


February 2nd, 2015 at 4:01 PM ^

While an interesting and diverse city is a laudable goal, shunting aside money concerns is one of the many reasons the city landed in receivership in the first place.  It's simply impossible to ignore the reality that the city needs money, and setting aside opportunities to increase its cash flow is very poor management.

No, it doesn't need to improve its profit margins, but what it does need to do is improve its services, because its services are vastly, woefully substandard.  If the city has a choice between an extra $1 million in revenue and an extra $2 million, it would be shirking its duty if it chose the $1 million, knowing that the extra million could hire 20 extra cops, or tear down 100 more houses a year, or buy 200 more streetlights a year.  That is a very tangible way to help current residents of the city.

And why should new residents moving into Midtown necessarily have no connection to its history?  I think that's an unfairly broad brush to paint the supposedly "rich" with.  Detroit is not Midtown and Midtown only.  And much of the land being used now for housing is completely vacant.  Given the choice between fixing up a derelict building with more upscale housing, and not fixing it up at all, the answer to me is a no-brainer.  Why scare out people willing to make an investment, just because they're not making the kind of investment you'd prefer?


February 2nd, 2015 at 4:17 PM ^

as to what is better in the long run financially for the city.

i could easily argue that building relatively expensive housing is a more risky endeavor because success (in terms of occupancy) is reliant upon continued improvements to the city. If things don't improve as planned, people will quickly see in the next couple of years that it's not worth paying Chicago-level prices in Detroit.

The big corporations that have bought and refurbished the city obviously want to see their investments pan out, but the city has been giving away everything for dirt cheap--it's a low risk, high reward investment. If it doesn't work out, the city gets hurt way more than these companies do.


February 2nd, 2015 at 4:30 PM ^

What has the city been giving away for dirt cheap?  It doesn't, itself, own most of the buildings that people have been refurbishing, or most of the land that people have been building on.

And whether or not things improve as planned depends largely on city management.  If it's as grotesquely incompetent as it has been in the past, no strategy at all is going to save it from ruin.  If it's run efficiently by intelligent people, then attracting the wealth they need to implement solutions is the only way to give them the resources to fix things.  Attracting wealth continues to be preferable to not attracting wealth.  

That means that there absolutely is a clear answer to what is better in the financial long run.  Tax base > no tax base.  Wealth > no wealth.  Without wealth you can't fund the things you need to help lower-income residents.  That is plain, unavoidable reality.

Bando Calrissian

February 2nd, 2015 at 6:09 PM ^

You'd know, then, that the city has been essentially giving away large swaths of city-owned land, buildings, etc. Heard of the Hantz Farms project? Or the house auctions that were selling off scrapped, burned-out houses for rehab? The city is definitely making strides towards putting neglected or unused parcels to use, but they're not getting a lot of cash in return.


February 2nd, 2015 at 9:26 PM ^

We have been discussing Midtown and downtown and the influx of more upscale housing in that area, yes?  In that context there hasn't been a huge land giveaway, except in bankruptcy court.  TSMH referred to land giveaways that resulted in expensive housing, which there hasn't been.  You're talking about land giveaways (or dirt-cheap sales) that resulted in trees.  Think about that: the land was so worthless that apparently the best use of it was to turn it back into its original forested state.  (Not the original plan, by the way; the original plan was actual farmland, but some of the neighbors put up a fuss and so the compromise was to plant trees, something that I simply cannot see the economic benefit in, but hey, community input and all that.)

There isn't exactly a lot of return available on burned-out houses and empty lots in ruined neighborhoods.  The city can either hang on to those lots forever and watch them never become anything, or sell them at a price that someone's actually willing to pay (and if that's $0, so be it) and watch them at least turn into something.


February 2nd, 2015 at 5:37 PM ^

should do, and where the investments should be, and the type of people that live there, and the prices of the buildings they live in? In other words, the CITY OF DETROIT, with its history of well thought out financial and other decisions, and some city planner who is presumably, in your view embued with a clarity of mind, and enlightened sense of the market above the mere mortals, should make those decisions instead of the investors putting their own money into the project with no guarantee whatsoever of a return? Yes, your system sounds vastly superior. Where exactly are these enlightened public servants with zero self interest and astute real estate knowledge? I want to meet one and then vote him or her as benevolent dictator.


February 2nd, 2015 at 4:02 PM ^

you create an extremely homogenous city center where everyone is at least middle class and has no connection to Detroit's history.

You may as well rename the city Gilbertown as it has no connection to what used to be Detroit. 


February 2nd, 2015 at 5:38 PM ^

I'm still at a loss to understand why "at least middle class" is synonymous with "no connection to Detroit's history."  There are tons and tons of people living in the suburbs whose parents grew up in Detroit and who could afford to live in Midtown.  If they moved back to Detroit, they absolutely would "have a connection."  We're not talking about Atlanta or Phoenix or Raleigh here, where the city is loaded up on transplants from out of state.  It's going to be many, many years before Detroit is the kind of city that attracts out of state transplants en masse.

This is not one of your better arguments.  It's an incredibly broad brush and an incredibly tenuous connection to make.


February 3rd, 2015 at 7:44 AM ^

So they should strive to gerymander neighborhoods to plan for what someone (a local givernment official I suppose) decides is best for the city? Who are these enlightened genuises and what department do they work in Detroit? This has never happened, in any city anywhere in the world. You sound exactly like the guy in a neighborhood block to tries to decide who the "right" people are to move onto the block. That doesn't usually work out too well.


February 2nd, 2015 at 2:30 PM ^

he was only the second comment on the post, so it's a little early to bring up that his is the only anything, with a sample size of two, or three, if you count the OP.

I'm with the camp that thinks that for someone to have to walk 21 miles to get to work in a country that has the money and leisure to put a man on the moon and a cruise missile on top of a wedding in Peshawar reflects a distortion of basic human values.


February 2nd, 2015 at 1:35 PM ^

He might have been able to put it in a softer way, but there's no denying that people without money are represented significantly less than they should be in civic (and national) economic government planning. It might be stated in a manner which offends others, but ignoring it is a wrong beyond simple offense.

Bando Calrissian

February 2nd, 2015 at 1:11 PM ^

Really, the two takeaways from this story are the exorbitant rates to insure a car in the City of Detroit and the absolutely deplorable condition of the public transportation infrastructure between the city and the suburbs. DDOT and SMART don't work as a coherent regional system, and intentionally so. Watching people wait for buses that never come, connections that don't make sense, etc. is just an indictment on how the Metro Detroit region looks at those who don't have cars and can't afford them. And the insurance companies preying on those who live in the city who do just adds to the absurdity.


February 2nd, 2015 at 1:21 PM ^

"Preying" is a pretty politically loaded word.  Fact is, insurance companies would lose money hand over fist in Detroit if they couldn't charge higher premiums.  Carjackings, auto theft, parts theft, and vandalism being the enormous problems they are inside the city, why would a company volunteer to toss money down the drain?

Bando Calrissian

February 2nd, 2015 at 1:25 PM ^

Don't want to veer too far into politics here, but...

The rates magically drop when you cross Eight Mile into neighborhoods in suburbs that look identical to what's on the other side of the road.

I'm not always a huge fan of the Michigan Chronicle, but they hit the nail on the head here:


Insurance redlining is an absolutely real problem. No one is saying car thefts and other issues don't happen in the city; but the rates insurance companies charge based solely on ZIP code are higher than places outside the city where those same issues happen.

panthera leo fututio

February 2nd, 2015 at 1:42 PM ^

Article is paywalled, but you can get the gist from the abstract:


Auto insurance 'redlining' is an empirically verifiable thing. To your initial point: this isn't to say that insurance companies are extracting excess profits from people in affected neighborhoods. But it does demonstrate that a lot of (potential) drivers take a huge hit on premiums through no fault of their own.


February 2nd, 2015 at 1:37 PM ^

I'm skeptical of a declaration that says "insurance rates are this based on ZIP code" but doesn't include any data for crime.  It's not enough to say "those same issues happen."  Happen how often?

The narrative that says companies are redlining and preying on poor people for no discernible reason is puzzling.  Even if we assume companies are ruthlessly profit focused, it makes no sense they'd arbitrarily price people out of the market.  Why cut off a customer base on purpose?  Fact is, companies are trying to make a buck.  If they could make a buck by offering the exact same rates on either side of 8 Mile, they'd do it.

snarling wolverine

February 2nd, 2015 at 2:48 PM ^

The rates magically drop when you cross Eight Mile into neighborhoods in suburbs that look identical to what's on the other side of the road.

I don't have the data in front of me but I recall reading that crime rates do, in fact, drop quite a bit when you cross 8 Mile. It's not so much about the neighborhood as the policing - the suburbs have their own police forces that aren't stretched as thin as Detroit's is.