Detroit attracts redevelopment investors with a clear strategy

Note from Storm: over the two decades I’ve been focused on urban regeneration, one of the most common failings I encounter is lack of strategy. There are visioning sessions galore, and no end to expensive comprehensive plans, but strategy is usually missing. Everybody assumes they have one, but almost none can tell me what it is. A strategy that can’t be remembered without pulling up a document is no strategy at all. The creation and implementation of effective urban and regional strategies is a major focus of my upcoming third book, Resilient Prosperity.

For now, let me leave you with one one simple insight that will clear up a lot of confusion about strategic issues. A project is how one implements a plan. A plan is how one implements a strategy. A strategy is how one implements a vision. If one of those four elements is missing, either nothing will happen, or the wrong things will happen.

From the article: Detroit is emblematic of the United States of America’s urban crisis. While it has been in a state of decline for decades, the 2008 financial meltdown dealt a decisive deathblow to the city’s finances. In 2013 Detroit became the largest city in the history of the United States to declare bankruptcy.

While Detroit’s declaration of bankruptcy received significant media coverage, much less attention has been paid to the subsequent vision of Detroit’s future development around which a consensus among local power brokers has coalesced.

This vision differs significantly from earlier urban development strategies whose goal was to rejuvenate the city’s manufacturing base. Instead, it recognizes the likelihood of further economic decline and its emphasis is on improving the quality of life of Detroit residents, economic diversification and environmental sustainability.

It is articulated in a 345-page document entitled Detroit Future City (DFC). It reads like a master plan and focuses on five “planning elements”: economic growth, land use, city systems, neighborhoods, and land and buildings assets. Unlike entrepreneurial urban policies whose time horizons are measured in quarters and election cycles, DFC aims to rejuvenate Detroit’s economy in the course of the next five decades.

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