Detroit, Michigan’s Midtown area has been a hotbed of redevelopment in the City for the past decade and is home to Wayne State University, the public institution that has had a wide-reaching impact on the safety and popularity of the area in recent years.
As a starting point, we can look at this year’s controversial Detroit Future City Framework (DFC), brainchild of the Detroit Works Project, in which Midtown and Wayne State play starring roles. Detroit Future City’s economic growth chapter places emphasis on the tech industry taking root in Downtown and on the popular “eds and meds” approach in Midtown (and the area surrounding the University of Detroit Mercy). Wayne State, no doubt, serves as an anchor institution in Midtown, attracting young educated people and medical professionals to the area. Take a walk around campus and you’ll see hip bakeries and coffee shops that have cropped up in recent years, and you can’t miss the Whole Foods store that opened its doors this summer.
Wayne State’s initiatives in Midtown (and the DFC’s economic growth theories) stem from the idea of the “creative class” revitalizing today’s post-industrial cities, popularized by Richard Florida. The University’s website advertises that they’ve invested $700 million in the Midtown area through programs like the “15 by 15” initiative that seeks to increase Midtown’s professional population by 15,000 by 2015. With such an emphasis on this creative class approach, is the University forgetting about the, for lack of a better term, “non-creative” residents of Midtown?
The revitalization efforts made by the University have been remarkably successful, but controversy is always inescapable. What responsibilities or ethics do institutions like Wayne State have to the neighborhoods, or cities, as a whole, that house them?
Credits: Data and images linked to sources.