Piece by piece

A look at the forces shaping downtown Detroit.

June 4, 1997


Plans for the great downtown rescue have finally gone public. After more than a year of closed-door meetings, the Greater Downtown Partnership has finally let the rest of us in on its ambitious plan for revitalizing the lower Woodward district between Grand Circus Park and the Detroit River. And at first look its seems sound. Tying the already developed areas together, creating public spaces, repopulating the area with residential lofts and making the downtown area pedestrian-friendly are all laudable features worth aspiring to. At least from what has been disclosed so far.

But there are still plenty of wild cards in this deck, including the fact that city officials say they've not yet calculated how much public money will be required to finance the plan.

It is a tremendous undertaking and there is good reason to question whether it will profoundly change our downtown. After all, the Renaissance Center didn't quite do the job.

In fact, many of the same names who brought us the gleaming towers on the river front are behind this new plan, and many of the new plan's features have been floated before. Now it seems that the political and business concerns involved have enough clout and cooperative spirit to push the package through.

Who are these people re-creating Detroit's image for the foreseeable future? And how have they managed to pull it all together?

The Metro Times has taken a close look at the process and the power brokers to provide an inside look at the wedded forces shaping our city, for better or for worse.