by CYNTHIA KMETT
The “Us vs. Them” battles between the City of Detroit and the suburbs are over, declared Detroit Mayor Mike Duggan, who strayed a bit off his usual campaign stops agenda to visit supporters in Troy.
The chance to meet Mayor Duggan and hear of his plans for Detroit’s future was hosted by The Choice Group owners Kamal and Yasmine Shouhayib last Wednesday evening at the company’s Livernois headquarters. Guests top priorities, shake the mayor’s hand, and pose with him for a photo. Duggan smiled brightly in every picture.
You may recall that the former head of the DMC medical complex had quite a campaign in 2013, including having to win a place on the ballot by waging a write-in campaign. Then he was faced with the fact that there hadn’t been a white mayor in Detroit since 1974. Undaunted, Duggan began going door-to-door asking if he could just talk to homeowners about Detroit’s future, and could they just invited a few friends over to hear of his plans for the city.
Before that campaign ended in 2013, with Duggan winning, he had been to over 250 coffees with his constituents and had expanded the space needed to greet voters to churches and schools. His promise, bring Detroit back. That work started out with basics, get the streetlights working again, and pick up the garbage. They’ve demolished 10,000 blighted homes in the past four, and have 4,000 homes that are still structurally sound, but were deserted by owners during the recession, on the auction block at the rate of three a day.
Downtown is flourishing, and Duggan credits the Ilitch family, Dan Gilbert, and now DTE for Beacon Park.
Duggan pointed out that back in 2013 when Oakland Executive L. Brooks Patterson and his team went recruiting new business for Oakland County, they heard, “Oh, that Detroit, hmmm no thanks.” Today, suburbs looking for new business hear, “Oh, Detroit, it’s on the comeback trail,” Patterson has told him.
Goals for the next his four years involve not just business expansion for Detroit – like perhaps winning that new Amazon headquarters, a drive led by Dan Gilbert – but rebuilding the neighborhoods He acknowledges that apartments in Detroit have a six month waiting list and now cost more than living in the suburbs, but new buildings are coming across the city. New apartments will even going up surrounding the new Little Caesars Arena, Duggan pointed out.
The city’s future looks bright again, Duggan believes.