Monday, January 21, 2013

Intellectual Arrogance

Here's a response I tried to post as a comment to this article re Detroit:

But my comment wouldn't take. Here it is:

Reason why compressing the city can't work: because the viable parts of the city are spread out. They're not in one place. There are large gaps between, say, downtown and Midtown. You can't compress/downsize/"rightsize" unless you find a way to physically move these sections together. Then move Corktown next to them. This is physically impossible. What you can do is fill in the gaps. The best way is probably to forget tops-down imposed solutions and allow market forces to work. Right now land is cheap. Empty downtown office buildings are cheap. Everything can be had cheap. I live downtown because the rent is cheap. Sharp developers are buying up the land and beginning to develop it. The most valuable spots are the gaps. I live in a building filled with long-time residents, but also many of the city's art hustlers. Artists are beginning to trickle into town, because the town has atmosphere, it has authenticity, it has street cred, and it's very cheap to live here. It's also a very tough place to stay. I'd rather be in Philly. But this place has unbelievable potential for growth, like no city in America. Those moving in are pioneers. Business will take care of itself. Artists are always first, in creating any scene. Even a city.

(You'd learn more about Detroit in a week staying here than ten years spent reading about it online. There's no substitute for real-life experience.)

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