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  • Here is why landlords could do well in Wayne County

    CNN has a message to all prospective landlords: Head to Wayne County! Occupancy and rental rates are increasing, the report says, creating an opportunity for serious returns on investments. In fact, after comparing the median sales price of homes to average monthly rents in nearly 1,600 counties, RealtyTrac found that Detroit’s Wayne County offers landlords the best return on their investment in the nation. Investors who buy homes in the metro area can expect a 30% gross annual return from rents. That’s triple the national average of 10%. RealtyTrac, an online real estate information company, says the county offers investors low prices for larger homes — with a median price of $45,000. “We’ve got some steals here,” said Rachel Saltmarshall, a real estate agent and immediate past president of the Detroit Association of Realtors, told CNN. “There’s a six-bedroom, 6,000 square-foot home in a historic district selling for $65,000.” For more, read the entire report here.

    The post Here is why landlords could do well in Wayne County appeared first on Metro Times Blogs.

  • The Record Store Day Guide for metro Detroit

    This Saturday, audiophiles across the world will venture out to their favorite independent record stores in search of limited releases that quickly become collectors items. The third Saturday of April marks the fairly new international holiday Record Store Day. There are certainly dos and don’ts to know for RSD — like where to shop, and how to shop. That’s right, there is an etiquette to shopping on Record Store Day and violating that code makes you look like a real asshole. In my experience of celebrating Record Store Day, I’ve seen stores use a few different tactics as far as stocking the special releases. Some establishments will set up a table, somewhere in the store, where a few shoppers at a time can flip through records in a calm and contained manner. Other places will have a similar setup, with all the releases at a table, but shoppers ask the store employees for the releases they want. It’s like a record nerd stock exchange. This process gets loud, slightly confusing and incredibly annoying — this is where elbows start getting thrown. Then, there are places that put the releases on the shelves, usually categorized by size — twelve inches with the twelve inches, seven inches with the seven inches and […]

    The post The Record Store Day Guide for metro Detroit appeared first on Metro Times Blogs.

  • City Slang: DEMF 2014 canceled

    The Detroit Electronic Music Festival, which was supposed to be making a triumphant return this year, has been canceled. A statement on the website says that the festival will be back in 2015. Back in November, Ford Field hosted an announcement party for DEMF, where it was revealed that a new DEMF festival would take place at Campus Martius Park in Detroit over the July 4th weekend. “I’m proud to be involved in the biggest and best electronic music festival in the world,” said Juan Atkins. “The future’s here. This is techno scene.” Not the immediate future, apparently. The DEMF people claim that the M-1 rail construction is partially to blame for the cancellation/12-month-postponement. Read the full statement here. Follow @City_Slang

    The post City Slang: DEMF 2014 canceled appeared first on Metro Times Blogs.

  • Metro Times wins heavy at the SPJ Awards

    Despite a turbulent 2013 which saw Metro Times change owners, move buildings and change editors twice, we picked up eight awards at the Society of Professional Journalists Awards on Wednesday night. The big winner was Robert Nixon, design manager, who picked up a first place for “Feature Page Design (Class A)” for our Josh Malerman cover story, first for “Cover Design (Class A)” for our Halloween issue (alongside illustrator John Dunivant), and a second in that same category for our annual Lust issue. In the news categories, our esteemed former news editor and current contributing writer Curt Guyette won third in “General News Reporting” and third in “Best Consumer/Watchdog” – both Class A – for the Fairground Zero and Petcoke Series respectively. Music & Culture Editor Brett Callwood placed third for his Josh Malerman cover story in the “Best Personality Profile (Class A)” category, and former editor Bryan Gottlieb picked up a couple of Class C awards for “Editorial Writing” and “Headline Writing” (third and second, respectively). We were also pleased to learn that our investigative reporter Ryan Felton won first place and an honorable mention for work published while at the Oakland Press. The MT ship is steady now, […]

    The post Metro Times wins heavy at the SPJ Awards appeared first on Metro Times Blogs.

  • Detroit’s grand bargain still needs Lansing’s approval

    In this week’s Metro Times we took a look at the state legislature’s role in Detroit’s ongoing bankruptcy — in particular, how it must approve a $350 million pledge for the so-called “grand bargain” to remain intact. And, with last night’s announcement of a significant deal between the city and Detroit’s pension boards and retiree groups, the ball is Lansing’s court now. The new deal, first reported by the Freep, would cut general employees monthly pension checks by 4.5 percent and eliminate their cost-of-living increases. Police and fire retirees would see no cuts to monthly checks, while their cost-of-living increases would be reduced from 2.25 percent to 1 percent. Under the original offer, police and fire retirees cuts were as high as 14 percent, with general retirees as high as 34 percent, that is, if the groups rejected the “grand bargain,” an $816 million proposal funded by foundations, the state, and the DIA to shore up pensions. The sweeter deal for pensions, though, it must be noted, entirely relies on the state legislature approving $350 million for Detroit’s bankruptcy.  And while this broke after Metro Times went to press, that was the focal point of this week’s News Hits column — so, it’s worth repeating: The […]

    The post Detroit’s grand bargain still needs Lansing’s approval appeared first on Metro Times Blogs.

  • City Slang: Local releases for Record Store Day on Saturday

    This Saturday, April 19, is Record Store Day, and there is plenty going on in metro Detroit and Michigan. Of special interest to us is Chiodos’ 7” single “R2ME2/Let Me Get You A Towel,” Mayer Hawthorne & Shintaro Skamoto’s 7” “Wine Glass Woman/In a Phantom,” Chuck Inglish & Action Bronson’s 7” “Game Time,” Chuck Inglish & Chance the Rapper’s 7” “Glam,” Chuck Inglish & Chromeo’s 7” “Legs,” Chuck Inglish, Mac Miller & Ab-Soul’s 7” “Easily,” James Williamson’s 7” “Open Up and Bleed/Gimme Some Skin,” Black Milk’s 12” “Glitches in the Break,” Mayer Hawthorne’s 10” “Jaded Inc.,” Wayne Kramer & the Lexington Arts Ensemble’s 12” “Lexington,” and best of all, Ray Parker Jr.’s 10” “Ghostbusters.” We wrote about James Williamson’s release this week. Go shop. Follow @City_Slang

    The post City Slang: Local releases for Record Store Day on Saturday appeared first on Metro Times Blogs.



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Cover Story

Tapping the brakes

Younger people and the shift away from driving

Photo: Justin Rose, License: N/A

Justin Rose

Photo: Elise Shively, License: N/A

Elise Shively

Alexander Wojcik: "I don't see the point in owning a car. I survive without it."

Jimmy Schroeder has been seeking adventures since graduating high school five years ago. That's why when the chance came to move into a friend's apartment in the New Center area of Detroit, the 23-year-old Battle Creek native didn't think twice. He gathered his belongings, rented a moving truck, and headed eastbound on I-94.


He's been living in the city since March. And, like a growing number of young people, Schroeder is pursuing his urban adventure without an automobile. 

Part of the reason is economics: His car broke down, and purchasing a new vehicle and then covering the associated costs — keeping it filled with gas, paying for insurance and oil changes, etc. — were expenses he figured he'd be better off avoiding. 

There's more to it than just that, though. Not having a car, he says, "makes you appreciate more of the little things. It's a good way to get around."

Living in the city is key to making things work.

"I have pretty much everything I need close by," he says, "That's the big thing missing from suburbs. In suburban areas you're just kinda there."

Although he says it took him three months to visit his parents, Schroeder now frequently makes the trip via Amtrak, whose Detroit station is conveniently located two blocks from his apartment. A one-way ticket runs him $24.

To make the trip to Battle Creek from Detroit in his old 1998 Mercury Sable would've cost about as much.

Schroeder is far from alone when it comes to scaling back automobile use. 

A recent study by the Frontier Group, an environmental think tank, and the U.S. PIRG Education Fund found that, in 2009, people between the ages of 16 and 34 had cut the number of miles driven by 23 percent when compared to 2001. Decreases for Gen X and Baby Boomers were more modest.

More notably, they are waiting longer to get their driver's licenses ... if at all. 

New data from the Federal Highway Administration and the U.S. Census including a study conducted by Michael Sivak and Brandon Scolette of the University of Michigan showed that 87 percent of 19-year-olds in 1983 had a driver's license; by 2010 that number had fallen to about 70 percent. For 18-year-olds, it dropped from 80 percent to 60 percent, for 17-year-olds from 69 percent to 45 percent. For drivers in their 20s, it dropped about 10 percent.

The findings, as Sivak described them in an e-mail, should be of interest to governmental regulators and automakers because the trend has "widespread consequences."

"Government regulators have interest in these trends because driver age has a strong effect on crash rates with the youngest drivers having the highest crash rates per mile driven," Sivak says.

Sivak and Scolette's study found four probable reasons young people are more likely now to put getting a driver's license on the backburner:


• The Internet and virtual contact have reduced the need for actual contact.

• Tough economic times.

• Young people are migrating to cities with reliable public transportation.

• Environmental concerns. 


The effect of the Internet on driving is significant, Sivak says. The study he and Scolette conducted found a definite correlation between use of the Web and a desire to drive in various countries; where Internet use is up (in terms of the number of people accessing it), licensure rates are down.

The Internet, Sivak explains, has two effects: "The Internet has the potential to find things more efficiently, without having to drive around. Furthermore, some young people feel that driving interferes with texting." 

That's not just speculation. A study recently conducted by Zipcar, a car-sharing rental service, and KRC Research, a market research firm, found that 54 percent of younger people polled preferred to spend time on the Internet talking to friends rather than driving to meet up with them. 

One might also argue that the rising costs of maintaining a car, coupled with college tuition costs that are continuing to rise, has created a shift among millennials, who might not be in a hurry to settle down. The ceremonial age of 16 is, in a sense, being demoted to simply another year gone by.

A Department of Transportation study showed the number of 16-year-olds in the United States who obtained a driver's license dropped from 50 percent to 30 percent between 1978 and 2008. 

"There are some economic-cycle factors involved as well, such as the current unemployment rate and cost of ownership of a car versus disposable income today," observes Mark Wakefield, director of AlixPartners LLP, a consulting firm based in Southfield. "And, on the longer-term trend side, continued urbanization is having an impact, making it less fun to drive and driving less of an 'event' for city-dwelling Gen N's." (That's Gen N meaning "neutral about driving.") 

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