Detroit: two cities in one


If my time in Detroit has taught me one thing, it’s that there are actually two Detroits.

There’s the downtown Detroit, the one where things always look on the up and up wherever you look.

Buildings are being bought, sold and given new life on a seemingly daily basis. Occupancy rates and rents are high. There’s new construction and development, the area is relatively clean and the underlying sense that Detroit is in fact “coming back” is hard not to notice.

If Detroit is being shown in a positive light in the media, whether it be on television, in print or online, there’s a good chance it’s downtown related. In fact, this can get rather nauseating as the same stories simply get rehashed over and over.

And then there’s the Detroit around UDM’s McNichols campus. There’s more blight, more violence and certainly less of a feel that Detroit is improving.

A simple drive down McNichols, in either direction, will show just that.

Don’t get me wrong: The area surrounding our campus has improved since I was freshman.

The streetlights along Livernois, except, interestingly enough, the ones right by campus, now glow bright at night. The trees and flowers in the medians are refreshing to see. A handful of shops and restaurants on the Avenue of Fashion have opened and are now flourishing.

And, hey, the city even installed new parking meters!

Yet, I still find myself juggling between the two Detroits, which is frustrating.

Sometimes I wish UDM’s McNichols campus was right next to the Law School downtown, right in the thick of things. Heck, I’d even take being right by the School of Dentistry some days.

However, I’ve also come to appreciate the neighborhood feel our campus encompasses. The vibrant University District is unmatched in the city’s 140 odd square miles, something that was pointed out in the Live6 announcement last month.

It’s also helped that my part-time internship with Automotive News is at the Crain Communications building, which is essentially right next to Ford Field.

So, in a way, I get to experience both Detroits when I have class and work on the same day, which has been great.

Regardless, I still wish there wasn’t such a disparity between the downtown area and where campus is situated.

I understand that a city needs an energetic downtown to get things flowing. Every big city in the United States is like that. There are always more desirable areas compared to others no matter where you go.

And, yes, I understand that eventually 6 and Livernois’ time may come some day, whenever that may be.

Selfishly, I don’t want to wait for it. But life doesn’t work that way.

If Live6 accomplishes everything that was talked about, it will be quite the feat.

For if it does become reality, it will make for a stronger Detroit and perhaps a more unified one.