Saturday, September 26, 2009

CCS has grown... sadly Detroit hasn't...

After a nice visit back to the College for Creative Studies, I had the chance to explore campus and the surrounding area. The school has grown massively since 1993. The school had built a new Ford building a few years ago which now houses the clay modeling studios as well as other design classrooms. Sitting in the lobby of the building was a relic of the 90's, a red Saturn EV1. A car I thought was all but history in a scrap yard according to the film "Who killed the electric car?". They also recently were given the historic GM Design building and put a massive 145 million dollar renovation into it. It now houses dorms, classrooms for design classes, as well as an elementary and high-school!
The areas around the school haven't changed a whole lot. While the old Ferry houses have been renovated into the Inn on Ferry st. Some blocks have been wiped clean into vacant lots, while some have new developments and others are left as they were... full of old abandoned and fire charred buildings. The new Comerica Park right on Woodward is a bright spot, the downtown is still a boarded up ghost town of empty storefronts and broken windows. In fact I just had a brief trip to LA and was buying something to read on the flight and noticed TIME magazine's cover was on the Tragedy of Detroit! It stated that the unemployment rate in the city is 28.8% !!! And that over 20% of the buildings are empty or abandoned. At it's peak Detroit was a city of 1.9 million people.... today that number is less than 900,000!! More than half of the population has left! They went on to say that in order for the city to grow again it may have to shrink first. Meaning that they should abandon huge sections of the city and turn them into parks and compress the people into a smaller more controllable footprint for Police, fire and sanitation to handle in a city with a $275 million dollar deficit. Staggering numbers that show in the number of broken windows in 30 story buildings left to rot back to the earth.
It's still hard to tell if now is a good time to start from scratch there or do like the auto industry (and the other half of the people) and leave for greener pastures. One store front in particular caught my eye, a single corner window pane with an orange wall with the words "Detroit, Everything WILL be alright". I hope so.



Gregory Becker said...

I live here and it's even worse than you pointed out. All of the public officials are in one way or another corrupt. I moved here 5 years ago and it has been a constant struggle.

Dwight Williams said...

I bet that college is part of what fixes Detroit up. Not by itself, true, but it's part of the prescription. Good to see it in place.

CA3 said...

What's happened in Detroit isn't too different from what's happened to many major cities along the east and west coast between the 1960's through to the mid-1980's. Anyone in their teens or early twenties still living in Detroit as of right now will likely be middle aged before they see any signs of economic revitalization.

The problem right now is you've got very well entrenched corrupt politicians and bureaucrats who are bleeding the municipal coffers dry like overfed ticks. You have a local economy that depended almost exclusively on one industry that had been long suffering from complacency and incompetent management, while facing greater competition. And last, but not least, you have a very large under served low-income community that has a growing number of people resorting to the sale of drugs and other criminal enterprises to support itself due to decades of it being poorly served.

Given what I've observed of city revivals elsewhere, I seriously doubt that CCS will be part of any initiatives to improve Detroit simply because that's not in their benefit with the current situation and no art school has ever had that sort of influence. They're doing what many smart institutions do when they find themselves in an economically depressed area, they make a gamble that things will change for the better and buy up as much real estate as they can cheap.

chacko abraham said...

I totally agree.. but detroit has a charm of its own I guess..


Amazing Web Counter
Verizon DSL Service