When moving back to Michigan, we wanted to live in the city of Detroit and looked downtown at several developments, including “lofts”, and “brownstones” at several locations including, but not limited to, Brush Park. When we asked about the retail, including grocery stores, that Crosswinds had in there master plan for Brush Park, the response was, “We’re not planning anything. We hope somebody else will want to do that once they see what we do.” Wow, great, so I can spend $265,000 dollars on a shoddily constructed, faux brownstone condomiums, at the corner of Woodward and I-75, with no planned retail, where we’d have to drive who knows how many miles to get groceries in another city, or we could spend $150,000 to get a house in the close in suburbs, such as Royal Oak, Berkley, Ferndale, or Oak Park, and drive, or walk, minutes to no less than 10 grocery stores. We can also have good schools, good, reliable services, lower car insurance, lower home insurance, and be able to go for runs alone at night.
Hmm…what should we do? What did we do? Of course we bought a house in the suburbs. We now walk to grocery stores, the Post Office, ice cream shops, bars, parks, schools, and stores, all things we couldn’t have done living in most places in Detroit. Sure you might get some of the above, but you’re not going to get it all, and that defeats the purpose of living in a city. Having lived in, and visited many other cities, I have certain standards for a city. I don’t want to be an “urban pioneer, I want to be able to walk to the things that I need, I want public transportation, I want people to feel safe parking there car on the street when they visit me, and I want my wife to be able to go for a run in the evening by herself. I couldn’t have that in Detroit.
Recently, the Detroit News did a story on the lack of grocery stores in Detroit. Why would anyone pay more money to live in an area that has so much less than everywhere else? I could live in downtown Portland, Oregon, for a similar amount of money, and have all the things mentioned above. Detroit should be dirt cheap to live in. Sure, if I want to live in a gutted burned out, crack-house infested neighborhood, I could by a house for less than $50 Grand, but that doesn’t count.
The lofts on Merchants Row: a one bedroom apartment starts at $940. A good deal in a nice place, a bad deal when you have to drive everywhere for everything.
The Lofts at Rivertown: 685 sq. feet starts at $100,000. No basement. Park in and live in a gated community in an isolated section of the city. Wow, outstanding.
Grinell Place lofts: starting at $165,000 in Corktown. Is this a joke? Don’t get me wrong, Corktown’s pretty cool, but we spent way less for a larger house with a basement in a walkable community with schools, and every other possible amenity nearby.
I could go on, and the list would be large. Living in Detroit could be cool, but it’s not. Living in a decent place in Detroit should be cheap. Cheaper than the cheap, close in suburbs. But it’s not. Living in Detroit should provide you with the benefits of living in a city but it doesn’t. Those who bought a loft and think they’ll be selling at a profit? I wouldn’t bet on it.