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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."

An annual study conducted by AlixPartners, which analyzes multiple automakers and auto suppliers, offered gloomy figures for automakers, showing there are 5 million fewer potential car buyers than there were just five years ago.

"Younger people have so many alternatives today with the Web," says Tim Yost, also of AlixPartners. "Cars don't seem as interesting" to them. 


Ferndale resident Alexander Wojcik, 24, got rid of his vehicle three years ago. He says he has no intentions of getting back behind the wheel. Instead, he gets to work and school by bicycle.

"I don't see the point in owning a car," Wojcik says. "I survive without it. Both of my jobs are within a mile from my house, and school is close as well, so anything I need is within reach."

The KRC Research and Zipcar survey also found that 45 percent of younger people have made a conscious effort to reduce driving. 

"The last time I bought gas it didn't cost as much as it does now," Wojcik says. "Why would I go back to that?"

The way he sees it, when a young person is deciding how best to spend limited resources, cars come up short.

"You can have an amazingly functional, stylish, well-built bicycle for a thousand dollars," Wojcik says. "You spend a thousand dollars on a car, it's going to go to shit in a year."

Wojcik adds that the environmental consequences of owning an auto are also a concern.

"I think, globally, bicycles are better and more popular than ever because their [environmental] impact is zero," Wojcik says. "You're not causing any harm. When you drive a car it impacts a million things. That aspect of it, as we're becoming a more educated society, is becoming more prevalent — the idea that it's a good thing to the environment, the world, even to small communities."

By its very nature, a decrease in driving creates higher demand for reliable, efficient public transportation — the dearth of which has long been an issue in metro Detroit. 

Andy Didorosi, 25, is trying to help change that. His recent start-up, the Detroit Bus Company, is providing a new way to get around town. The $5 per-ride service covers nearby suburbs and downtown Detroit neighborhoods. An iPhone app allows customers to track the buses they're waiting for. 

Didorosi says he created the company because he felt the city needs more reliable transportation in order to grow. The ridership of his fleet of eclectically painted buses generally is a mix of young and old, with the average age hovering around 35 to 40.

"These are people who saw the city crumble and are still venturing downtown, still fighting for it and spending their dollars down there," Didorosi says via e-mail. "It's very motivating." 

The selling point to Detroit's resurging neighborhoods (such as downtown, Corktown and Midtown) for the younger crowd is their transformation in recent years into smart growth communities — neighborhoods with apartments, stores, restaurants, entertainment, schools and access to public transportation nearby. 

A National Association of Realtors survey from March 2011 found 62 percent of 18- to 29-year-olds would prefer to live in smart growth communities. 

Given that, Didorosi sees the potential for young people providing a boost to public transit in Detroit, if the money for vast improvements is made available. 

The ways he sees it, young people are gravitating to places with the best public transit, be it San Francisco or Copenhagen. Detroit, he says, would be wise to follow that lead if it wants to become a magnet for youth.

Better public transit, he contends, will "create its own demands and bring commerce to the corridors [in which] it operates."

The finding of Sivak and Scholette's study, which correlated lower licensure rate with higher Internet usage, seems absolutely reasonable to Didorosi.

"The fact is, social activities across the board are in decline, and public transit and cycling are among the very few places where you can meet new people and branch out. Transit is a crucial crossroads where you can have the conversations and build the relationships that really matter," he says. "We've been imprisoned in our cars-of-one for far too long here in Detroit. It's time to reconnect." 

In response, more cities have begun to adapt to the increased interest in cycling, although sometimes grudgingly. Schroeder says he's seen that with the residents of his hometown Battle Creek. There, he says that "people are hesitant with change, even if it's putting a new line on the road" for bike lanes.

While older folks might be resistant to such change, many younger people are becoming a non-driving force behind it.

"As a younger person, I moved to the city because I can't stand the suburbs," says Jason Fiedler, communications and programming director at the Hub of Detroit/Back Alley Bikes. "Strip malls and McMansions don't ignite anything within me."

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