Time to Move to Detroit?


image: Cardcow

Detroit is on a lot of people's minds these days, what with the bailouts and the auto show. TreeHugger has looked at Detroit real estate before, questioning how such a valuable asset could be left to rot like this. Economist Ryan Avent has an idea: "a bunch of us new media types should pack up and head to Detroit, where we could all buy mansions for $1000."

detroit postcard image

The idea is this — if enough people of a certain productive potential move to Detroit, then Detroit will begin exercising an attractive force. In response to the growing population of people, supportive infrastructure will grow up. Employers will follow or start-up from among the migrants. Consumption options reflecting migrant taste will appear. And eventually the whole show will become self-sustaining. People who want to be in the industry involved or related industries will move there, employers who want to employ such people will move there, and so on and so forth.

central michigan station image

Detroit Free Press

But is it too far gone? If you read The City Where the Sirens Never Sleep by Matt Labash, you would never go near the place, but he is writing for a publication that is no friend of cities or Democratic politicians of any color.

In the popular imagination, the Motor City has gone from being the Arsenal of Democracy, so named for their converting auto factories to make the weapons which helped us win World War II, and the incubator of the middle class (now leading the nation in foreclosure rates, Detroit once had the highest rate of home ownership in the country), to being Dysfunction Junction. To Detroit's credit, they've earned it.

On the other hand, they still have ball teams, theaters and infrastructure in Detroit, and perhaps what it really needs is customers. Ryan writes:

The professionals [and the new media types] will want to go out to enjoy themselves, which means we’ll need entrepreneurs to open and run bars and restaurants, and a large enough urban population to keep a small but diverse array of establishments open and profitable. People need accountants and banks, doctors and teachers, lawyers and public servants. Cities need plumbers and janitors and sanitation workers and tailors and dry-cleaners and pharmacists and electricians. And if you want more and better options — theaters and music venues, museums, specialty shops, and so on, then you need a bigger population.

Detroit still has most of those things. Maybe he is on to something.

Ryan Avent:More on Agglomerations

More on Detroit in TreeHugger

Kunstler on Peak Suburbia; Harpers Magazine on Detroit
Container Condo To Be Built In Detroit
What Will Save the Suburbs?

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