As our fellowship year continues, more and more does my weekday life feel disconnected from Challenge Friday’s. My Monday through Thursday’s are spent in my company’s downtown Detroit office or at client sites outside the city, and Friday’s are spent at Techtown or exploring the neighborhoods. While Friday’s at Challenge are a deep dive into Detroit’s neighborhoods, I really didn’t realize how uneducated I was about what is going on in the downtown I often work in until this week, when Eric Larson, the CEO of Downtown Detroit Partnership, spoke at a company event.
One notable takeaway from Eric’s presentation was the crazy residential development that’s going on downtown. I (shamefully) usually drive the two miles from my apartment to our downtown office, and I don’t spend much time walking around or exploring beyond my usual stops. Following his presentation, I’m going to make an effort to walk around the downtown more often and witness these transformations firsthand.
Beyond the explosion of residential development over the coming years, the other thing that struck me was transforming the ground level landscape of the downtown. The concept of sustainability and urban green space particularly resonates following our Ecoworks and Belle Isle Challenge. Many of the renderings I saw amplified the amount of green space currently in the city. From images of the DTE Energy Park set to open this summer to trees protecting bike lines or pedestrian pathways from car traffic, I am looking forward to seeing a little more green in the city.
I feel as though sometimes downtown Detroit gets a bad rap in Challenge-esque circles. However, I hope the focused capital being poured into the downtown does also expand to the neighborhoods. The final point I took away from the presentation was an emphasis on developing the downtown as a “downtown for the city” rather than “the city’s downtown.” It’s a subtle difference, but one can’t root for Detroit without rooting for its downtown as well.