Midtown is all the buzz the past few years. From new residential options to new retailers, new employment opportunities to the prospect of new entertainment venues, there is no shortage of new in the neighborhood. Midtown, more than any other area of the City, is overflowing with potential to be the livable, walkable, vibrant urban neighborhood that so many people in Detroit are looking for. Several factors make Midtown poised to continue its prosperity. This post will look at a few of those factors and provide a quick survey of what is goin’ down in Midtown.
The Infrastructure: Perhaps the most significant asset to Midtown is the blessing of an infrastructure conducive to dense urban development. The “grid” layout of the neighborhood with blocks upon blocks of mixed-use real estate make it the kind of place one normally finds strong urban neighborhoods. More importantly, those blocks and blocks are not occupied by the thing that take up so much space in Detroit and stands in the way to the revitalization of other neighborhoods, single family homes. In so many areas of the City, an individual can drive dozens of blocks before ever coming to a mixed-use, retail/residential thoroughfare. Many of the City’s hoods resemble suburbia more than they do the largest urban city in the State. The mix of uses and the existence of multi-unit housing and retail in Midtown make it the logical place for urban roots to flourish. Quite simply, Midtown’s historical and current layout provides it the best launching pad for continued growth.
The Location, Location, Location: The next, and perhaps the most obvious, benefit is Midtown’s location. As the name would suggest, midtown is…well, in the middle. The middle of what? It is in the middle of many of the City’s other vibrant areas. New Center, Downtown, Woodbridge, Eastern Market, all border Midtown. Sometimes, good neighbors make all the difference.
The Institutions: When developers look to build a mall or a large shopping center they always attempt to secure anchor tenants first. Typically, without an anchor tenant the project will not proceed and potentially never become a reality. The same can be said for neighborhood redevelopment. When it comes to anchors, Midtown leads the City and metropolitan region by leaps and bounds. Wayne State, Center for Creative Studies, The DMC, The DIA, Detroit Historical Museum, Science Center, The Charles Wright Museum of African American History, The MOCAD… the list seems to never end, The Max Fisher Music Center, The UofM and MSU satellite facilities…you get the point. All of these institutions are unique to Midtown and cannot be replicated. These institutional anchors increase foot traffic during business hours and, because workers choose to live near where they work, in non-business hours as well. This increased foot traffic and vibrancy increases the motivation for retailers who service those people to set up shop. The presence of those retailers adds to the vibrancy and attracts more residents and then more retailers…the cycle continues.
The Housing Options: Midtown may be home to the widest variety of housing options anywhere in the metropolitan region. The Studio One Apartments, rehabed Brush Park Mansions, Ellington soft lofts, Willy’s Overland Lofts, Single Family masterpieces on Perry, college dorms, Canfield Lofts (pick one of the several buildings). Midtown has seen a boom of new construction and rehabs and the trend seems to be continuing despite the economic conditions. Diverse housing options means people with diverse preferences and lifestyle desires. Midtown is one of very few places in Metro Detroit that addresses the huge demand for housing options that do not fall into the categories of single-family and suburban.
The Safety: One of the big things that we hear over and over is that safety concerns keep many potential City Dwellers from living in Detroit. One of the other things we often hear is that Midtown is not like other places in the City. The presence of Wayne State Police in the area makes Midtown the benefactor of additional police presence and significantly increased police response times. Residents of the area know it, and so do potential criminals and thugs. This awareness often means that the wrongdoers are more likely to do their wrongdoin’ somewhere else.
The Proof: Ok, so I’ve tried to make the case that Midtown will continue to grow and become THE center of Detroit’s resurgence. What do I know? Nothin, so don’t take my word on it, here is an incomplete list some of the happenings that are going to make Midtown the epicenter of a renaissance.
- The Ellington: 55 soft loft condos at 3670 Woodward Ave.
- Crystal Lofts: 17 luxury condo units at 3100 Woodward Ave.
- Moorie Townhouse Estates: 20 condo units in a rehabbed Brush Park Mansion
- Park Shelton: Over 200 condo/rental units in the rehabilitated high- rise just north of the DIA
- Springfield Lofts: 10 condo units in a rehab on W. Alexandrine
- Willy’s Overland Lofts: 75 Loft condo units on W. Willis
- Studio One Apartments: 124 new construction market rate apartments on Woodward
- Beethoven Apartments: 30 rehab apartments on Second Ave.
- Canfield Lofts: 35 units
- Art Center Towne & Carriage Homes: 100 units
- Brainard Street Townhomes: 120 units
- Brush Park Manor: 213 units over two phases of development
- Forest Arms: Redevelopment of 74 unit apartment building gutted by fire several years ago
- Woodward Place @ Brush Park: 200 units
- Dozens of other projects (small and large) that are done or in the works
- Biggby’s Coffee
- Avalon Breads
- Bureau of Urban Living
- Canine to Five (Dog Daycare)
- Curl Up and Dye Hair Salon
- Good Girls Go To Paris Creperie
- Honest John’s
- Hub Bicycle Shop
- Lefty’s Lounge
- Midtown Corner Deli
- Motor City Brewing Works
- Shangri La
- Starter’s Bar and Grill
- Barnes & Noble
- Einstein Bagels
- La Pita Mediterranean Grill
- Goodwells Natural Market
- Flo’s Boutique
- Re:view Contemporary Gallery
- Traffic Jam Bar
- Bronx Bar
- Union Street
- Ye Olde Butcher Shoppe
- Many more
Big Stuff On The Way?:
- A little project known as the M-1 Light Rail Line
- Vanguard Health Systems $850 million dollar investment into the renovation and expansion of the DMC
- Land speculation in the southern end of midtown has many whispering that the new home of the Detroit Red Wings will be built there.
Go visit the shops in Midtown, check out a rental unit when your lease expires in Royal Oak, hit up the MOCAD. You will be surprised at what you find. Already there? Leave a comment with other great things happening in the neighborhood.