John Gerzema: Don't Short The Motor City
Urban pioneers such as the "Good Girls Go to Paris" restaurant create a 'virtuous circle' in Detroit.
Given the apocalyptic panorama, any first-time visitor who landed in Detroit and drove around the city for the first time would half-expect to see marauding Mad Max figures come roaring down the street on handmade battlewagons powered by Allison diesel engines. Long in economic retreat, the median home price in Detroit dropped to below $8,000 in 2009. The 80,000-seat Silverdome stadium sold for $583,000—roughly the equivalent of a studio apartment in Manhattan. Far more compelling than the statistics was the city’s landscape: abandoned factories, vacant commercial buildings, and neighborhoods where three-quarters of the homes have been boarded, burned, or bulldozed. In the most desolate residential areas you could drive for blocks and see few signs of life except for stray dogs and, occasionally, a coyote.