Motor City on the Move: Opportunity Detroit


“Because in the real world they’re shuttin Detroit down. While the boss man takes his bonus paid jets on out of town. DC’s bailing out them bankers as the farmers auction ground. Yeah, while they’re living up on Wall Street in that New York City town. Here in the real world they’re shuttin Detroit down. Here in the real world they’re shuttin Detroit down.”

 Recognize those lyrics? It’s a country song by John Rich called “Shuttin Detroit Down.” Rich is part of the duo, Big & Rich. I’m not a huge country genre fan, but I have a few songs I do like. This song hits me every time I hear it. It hit hard back from 2009-2010. Not anymore.

Cadillac Square (Courtesy The Detroit Hub)

Cadillac Square (Courtesy The Detroit Hub)

Why? Detroit’s not shut down anymore, it never was, it wasn’t ever going to be. We hit a bump in the road. I bet if we all went back to 2009 from 2013 and tell ourselves that Detroit was on Forbes’ Top 15 Emerging Downtowns they would’ve thought we were crazy.

It’s not crazy, it’s reality. Detroit never went away. The city hit a large bump in the road, but guess what, the blue-collar town that this city was founded on found a way to re-ignite a flame that was close to going out.

That igniter came in the form of businessman, Dan Gilbert. He and his company, his team of professionals, CEO’s, and business leaders in the Metro Detroit community, specifically downtown came together and figured out a way to revitalize the city.

Gilbert has brought in the energy needed to revitalize the Downtown core, and this last Thursday, he and his team of partners unveiled a “Big Bang” plan to make Downtown Detroit an even more pedestrian friendly place to live, work, and play. It’s called, “Opportunity Detroit,” and it’s sort of like the Detroit Future City Plan unveiled by Mayor Bing and City Council about a few months ago, but instead of having plans to implement, this IS going to happen.

That’s not to say the Future City Plan won’t happen, but this plan from Gilbert is set to begin this summer. That’s right, this summer. So what exactly does this Opportunity Detroit plan consist of, what will it do, and where will we see these plans be implemented you might ask.

From the river all the way to Grand Circus Park up Woodward Ave. is where this will happen. First and foremost, starting from the river, there is a rendering to change Hart Plaza, make it more green, and change the intersection of Jefferson and Woodward. From there, a walkway up the center of Woodward would be installed.

At Campus Martius, there will be massive changes. Imagine cafes, food carts, kiosks, ice cream shops, burger joints, small shops, and ground floor retail surrounding not only Campus Martius, but Cadillac Square as well.

If you don’t know what Cadillac Square is, it’s a small strip of land and road surrounded by tall buildings just east of Campus Martius. Anchoring that area is upscale grocer, Papa Joe’s who will open a 15,000 square foot store complete with outdoor seating, and delivery!

Imagine larger sidewalks, games, areas for residents of the community. A better utilized area of Downtown Detroit. Oh, and Greektown would be connected via Monroe St. with more shops and retail.

Up next heading north on Woodward, a contest is now set in place, a design competition for the old Hudson’s building site. Construction is scheduled to begin on the old Hudson’s site sometime next summer. Parts of the Lower Woodward Historic District north of Hudson’s will be revitalized with more shops, retail, and office space.

Finally, we arrive at Grand Circus Park where the park will be transformed, along with the David Whitney Building, which announced renovations to begin last Friday in the ceremonial “groundbreaking.”

Every rendering had the M1 Rail in it, so get ready for that as the groundbreaking begins this summer. So, if you plan on spending some time in Downtown Detroit this summer, you should be pleasantly surprised with the changes that are currently happening.


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