Stir It Up
Does Detroit have to accept any development without tweaks?
Published: July 20, 2011
Others are concerned about the impact Gateway will have on the nearby Livernois Avenue of Fashion district, and on Mike's Fresh Market, which occupies the former Farmer Jack space at Livernois and Seven Mile. When Farmer Jack left the area, community organizations worked with Mike's to locate there.
Nobody seems to be saying that Gateway shouldn't be built, just that developers should be more sensitive to the local community. That seems to be fair, especially since the people of Detroit are footing the bill to create this place. Gateway is financed, in part, by the Detroit General Retirement System pension fund in addition to a variety of tax incentives.
"Mike's Fresh Market, he's going to be greatly impacted," Varner says. "He can't compete with them in prices. It can't be the same kind of market it is now. And the small stores on Livernois are going to be affected. That doesn't necessarily mean a bad thing; it may improve business in the community."
This is the conundrum we face in Detroit these days. We need development; we need jobs. One report says Gateway will create about 600 jobs. And it will generate taxes from an area that is not generating any economic activity. But do we have to take anything that comes down the pike? In this instance, that may be more the case than not.
Steve Douglas, owner of Renaissance Bowling Center on Woodward near the Gateway grounds, provides some perspective from the area east of Woodward, which is much more hardscrabble than the tony neighborhoods on the west side. "I bought this place in 1999. Since then the entire neighborhood has totally fallen apart," he says. "Why wouldn't you want something like this in your community? There's nothing but crime here."
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