Randy McDonald (rfmcdpei) wrote,
Randy McDonald
rfmcdpei

[URBAN NOTE] Two notes on urban transformation in Detroit-Windsor

Divided between American Michigan and Ontarian Windsor though it may be, the Detroit-Windsor area remains a single metropolitan area with grave problems.

  • First comes Jeff Green and Keith Naughton's Bloomberg article "Detroit Population Plunges to Century Low With Suburban Flight".


  • For three years, Jayesh Patel, an attorney, and his wife, Neethi, a pediatrician, were what he called “reverse commuters.” They worked in the suburbs and lived in the city of Detroit. Last July, the Patels moved out.

    They joined 237,493 who left Detroit over the last decade, a 25 percent decline that left the city with 713,777, down from a peak of 1.85 million in 1950. The Patels abandoned their neighborhood of Victorian homes in the Corktown district, founded by Irish immigrants at the turn of the 20th Century, and moved to the affluent suburb of Birmingham in search of better schools for their two children.

    “I was just shocked,” Kurt Metzger, director of Data Driven Detroit, which collects demographic information, said about the 2010 Census figures for the city. “Even in my wildest dreams, my most depressed nightmares, I wasn’t expecting this big of a decline.”

    Detroit’s population fell from 951,270 in the previous decennial tally -- a loss of 65 residents per day since 2000 -- making it the lowest official count since 465,766 in 1910, according to U.S. Census data released yesterday. It joins St. Louis, Cleveland, Cincinnati and other Midwestern cities unable to reverse a six-decade population loss.

    [. . .]

    Detroit’s black population fell 24 percent and white residents declined 44.4 percent, pushing black residents to 82.2 percent of the city, from 81.2 percent, the data showed. White residents now make up 7.8 percent of Detroit, or slightly more than Hispanics who account for 6.8 percent of the city, up from 3.2 percent in 2000.

    “It’s not just white flight anymore, it’s black movement to the suburbs,” said William Frey, a demographer at the Washington-based Brookings Institution. “Part of it is younger people leaving. The city isn’t where they want to be anymore. There are opportunities in the suburbs.”


  • Second, via the Burgh Diaspora comes a story ("Mini-Motown finds there’s life after autos
    "
    ) describing how Windsor--and other problematic post-industrializing cities in the North American Midwest--is taking advantage of low, low real estate prices and a relatively moderate climate to attract migrants. (Windsor was at risk of losings its television station in 2009.)


  • Spring is in the air in Canada’s southernmost city. And, for once, the melting snow is exposing more than rust. Windsor, Canada’s beleaguered motor city, is experiencing early signs of a rebirth, a get-off-the-mat revival for a rust belt community that for the past few years has suffered through a double curse: the highest unemployment and some of the lowest real estate values in the country.

    For decades, Windsor has been the “motor capital of Canada” – a miniature twin of the once-mighty juggernaut Detroit, the now near-ghost town just across the river. When the domestic auto industry died in the last decade, it nearly brought these cities down with them.

    [. . .]

    In those darkest days, modest investment started to trickle in. In October 2008, European solar manufacturer Siliken S.A. announced it would establish a factory in Windsor, employing 175. In January, Quebec-based Premier Aviation announced it would expand its aircraft servicing facility at the Windsor Airport.

    But the biggest news was that a consortium including South Korean giant Samsung announced in December it would begin manufacturing steel towers for wind turbines in the city, delivering a modest but symbolically important 300 full-time jobs by 2012. The move is significant not only because it is a rare investment from an Asian country, but also because it moves the city incrementally away from the once-ubiquitous Big 3 auto manufacturers who gave the city both its brightest days and darkest hours.

    The area now counts more than a dozen alternative energy companies doing business.

    [. . .]

    “We have the very best climate in Canada. Did you know there are 14 states to the north of us?” asks [one person]. “Right now, I’m looking at grass and bikes coming out.”

    Real estate investment in the area from that cohort alone is estimated to already be $110 million. Since the initiative was launched in September 2008, 278 Ontario families have moved to the area – two-thirds from the Toronto area. Perhaps more surprising is the power to draw from the West. Krista Del Gatto, Executive Officer of The Windsor-Essex County Real Estate Board, notes that fully 28 per cent of the arrivals – 103 families – are from Alberta and B.C. Even 200 retirees have been courted away from the pricier West Coast.
    Tags: canada, cities, economics, links, migration, united states
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