As one of the nation’s fastest shrinking cities in terms of population rates, Detroit, Michigan is a target for mega-project metastasis. Megaproject metastasis is the gradual growth of the construction and expansion of a megaproject, a substantially large investment project, that weaves into the surrounding areas of the city and into the city itself. Detroit is a spacious city compared to most cities in the U.S. Downtown. Many of the homes in which the citizens of Detroit used to reside in are demolished. As a result, the real-estate markets of Detroit are extremely weak.
Downtown Detroit, in particular, has a very unique layout, which derives from plans that were popular during the Baroque era. “The city’s downtown street system is an odd, accidental clashing of a grandiose Baroque radial plan dating from 1807 with an imperfectly surveyed speculative grid (Reps, 1961) The Baroque street plan provides a variety of small parks and boulevards unusual in a Midwestern city, but the rest of the downtown plan possesses little urban design interest” . Downtown Detroit is a most appropriate site for urban mega-projects to take place.
For example, the idea of the construction of a waterfront civic center was thought of in the 1940s. By the 1960s, the civic center was built and Detroit became “one of the first American cities to possess a 300,000 square foot convention center directly adjacent to downtown” . Construction of the waterfront civic center project paved way for many more mega-projects along the Detroit waterfront. Some of these construction projects include (but are not limited to) the establishment of the Renaissance Center, office buildings, hotels, retail stores, and casinos. Some of the more well-known urban mega-projects that took place in downtown Detroit include Comerica Park (a new baseball stadium), which opened in 1999, and Ford Field (a new football stadium), which opened in 2002.
In an attempt to revitalize American downtown cities, there are two simple rules to keep in mind – 1.) To not replace small-scale physical features that are able to survive for a long time and 2.) To perform metastasis projects, which are city-transformative projects that are able to be done quickly and efficiently, that will spark construction other metastasis projects inexorably in the long run. Megaprojects proliferate because they assist the government’s functions. If urbanist and activist Jane Jacobs (1916-2006) were alive today, she would most likely say that “American city governments, including those of Philadelphia and Detroit, are demonstrating poor judgment in restraining their hunger for ostentation, largesse, and profit” . Nevertheless, there are former residents of downtown Detroit who are willing to do everything they can to preserve the living conditions there. Despite that it is an overwhelming task, it shows leadership and dedication to others in the vicinity.
- Del, Cerro Santamaría Gerardo, Ryan, D. Brent. 2013. Urban Megaprojects: A Worldwide View. Emerald Group Publishing Limited. Print.