The word downtown was tossed around a lot in 2011. Everybody has one or is working on creating one as they pursue the newfound love of things urban. Downtown Development Authorities, Chambers of Commerce, Main Street programs had Main Streets - and their equivalents - throughout metro Detroit putting money into makeovers and facelifts in 2011 as city leaders saw promise in creating places that preserve history, have varied businesses and invite walking, biking, strolling.
The changes were big and small. Together should convey: You want to come here. Decorative, energy-efficient street lights, attractive, theme-appropriate benches, trash-receptacles, pedestrian-safe sidewalks and crosswalks, art installations, benches, historic preservation projects, special events, facade grants, kiosks to direct visitors, even phone apps to get them around town - all wrapped in business recruitment and PR.
Cities with the most real downtowns: Rochester, Ferndale, Royal Oak, Mount Clemens, Dearborn, Plymouth, Northville. The up-and-comers: Auburn Hills, Clarkston, Berkley, Novi, Wyandotte.
Downtown Rochester $1 million streetscape re-do is on
Downtown Lake Orion gets $2 million streetscape, new microbrewery
Mount Clemens invests more than $250K in way-finding signs
Wyandotte DDA's business improvement grants paying off
Nightlife builds in downtown Plymouth
Ice rink cometh to Auburn Hills heating up plans for downtown
Graduate housing, downtown parking and retail complex coming to Auburn Hills
Main Street Oakland recognizes top downtown projects
By Kim North Shine