Tuesday, August 18, 2009

Young And Dumb In Detroit

The media is jumping all over the story about Detroit and its emerging urban frontier of opportunity. The scale of devastation is awesome to contemplate. That's really the glitch in recovery hopes, but more on that later. I want to highlight the boomerang trend sweeping the Motor City:

[Ryan] Cooley grew up in Detroit but left to become a Chicago banker. Four years ago, though, he decided to come home and take a chance on Detroit real estate, and he bought three modest brick buildings in the Corktown neighborhood. Cooley, 33, said it cost only a couple hundred thousand dollars for all three buildings. Something similar in Chicago would have been four times as much.

He is so bullish on the city that he set up a real estate business in one of the buildings. In another he helped open a popular new restaurant. Slows Bar-B-Q has become the anchor of this mini-one block urban renewal.

The text of the article isn't a transcript of the entire NPR story. Do give it a listen and learn about the boomerang ethos that inspired my blog. This is what is going on in Youngstown, right now.

Cooley's piece of the Detroit Renaissance looks like about the size of the Youngstown Renaissance. My concern is that Detroit is too vast and the creative energy too diffuse. The pockets of renewal might continue to thrive, but get lost in the economic turmoil of the entire city. In that regard, Youngstown is more manageable and the core vitality is the right geography to deal with the current whims of globalization.

This is why Youngstown made Entrepreneur magazine's list and Detroit did not.

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