Much has been said about the ‘destruction’ of Detroit – a dilution of the local economy – the resulting housing crises and the hollowing out of entire neighborhoods. Sure, that’s an open secret and no less depressing. It’s an in your face reality and it’s hard to escape. But, as we’ve seen with a number of “flyer-over” cities and midwest urban areas, a lot of creativity seems to seep through the cracks – ableit slowly – but with a keen eye on creating some new development. As with cities like Louisville, Nashville, Pittsburg and Detroit, locals have decided to stay and imports to make a new home, opening up retail spots with a flavor torn out of the Brooklyn playbook. Make no mistake, in Detroit we’ve driven on roads and seen entire neighborhoods abandoned, hollowed shells of buildings and empty streets, but you can also see the possibility, and it’s inspiringly seductive.
Just a few streets away from an entire abandoned ‘superblock’, a coffee shop grows like a tree, full of hope and well, some great coffee, cheer and a dedicated weekend morning ‘shredding playlist’.
Check out Astro Coffee Detroit on Michigan Avenue and how they’re creating a haven for coffee culture. Next Door, Sugar House, serves up some mean drinks with a smooth set of culturati chatting the night away. Down the road, we grabbed dinner and shred some Nebbiolo at Ottava Via – be sure to stop in and sit at the bar. The pizzas are worth a mention and so is the female bartender. (we didn’t take names)
In Downtown, we enjoyed a few drinks along “The Belt Alley” at Stand By, again, refreshingly exposed to a new creative set of people. Down Woodward Avenue a new retail and workspace strip has taken hold. We stopped by WeWork Campus Martius for one of our on-going WeWork Tastings Hours – this time with Tito’s Vodka and got to meet with some of the local creatives starting professional fires in the city.
We can say that the overall impression of a fluid Detroit has been an inspirational one. Sure, the progress is mercurial and sporadic, but the quality of the execution betrays an understanding of the new millennial – and may we dare to say ‘hipster’ – aesthetic, and customer experience expectations. Yet, everywhere, you’d be amiss not to acknowledge the cranes, shop fitting and renovations going on. Flame on, Motor City, flame on.