GR, Detroit among ’emerging downtowns’

Tom Hillen| Woodtv.com

GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. (WOOD) – Forbes Magazine has placed Grand Rapids and Detroit on its list of “emerging downtowns.”

“As more Americans, particularly college-educated young adults ages 25 to 34, opt for urban lifestyles, cities scramble to revitalize their central business districts,” according to Forbes.

The write-up said a major part of Grand Rapids’ downtown success has come because of the large public-private partnership in West Michigan.

“Investments have yielded the Van Andel Arena, the new $60 million home of the Grand Rapids Museum, a $220 million convention center, and $1 billion in new hospitals and new headquarters for Michigan State University’s College of Human Medicine. Rockford Construction has converted more than a dozen abandoned warehouses and office buildings into 400,000 square feet of updated residential, retail and office space.”

A current project underway mentioned in the article is for the Downtown Market — “a year-round culinary marketplace, spanning 130,000 square feet” — scheduled to open this spring.

Also of note, “the city plans to build a rapid transit bus line that will more easily cart people from the suburbs to Grand Rapids’ downtown.”

Forbes has previously listed Grand Rapids on several prominent rankings. Last year, the publication ranked Grand Rapids first on its list of Best Cities for Raising Families, and as one of the happiest cities for workers in 2012.

Detroit is also among the 15 nationwide cities highlighted for their “emerging downtowns.”

“Detroit has suffered a bad reputation for years now, thanks to its weak economy and mass exodus of residents.”

“It’s a tale of two cities: the one that’s bankrupt and then there’s the one that’s revitalizing its downtown and attracting the ‘young and the restless,'” says Lee Fisher of CEOs for Cities.

“Detroit’s downtown is transforming in large part thanks to billionaire Quicken loans founder Dan Gilbert who has poured millions into redeveloping the area’s commercial real estate, relocating many of his businesses to the area,” according to Forbes. “In 2011, five companies (Quicken Loans, Blue Cross/Blue Shield of Michigan, Compuware, DTE Energy, Strategic Staffing Solutions) pledged more than $4 million to encourage and aid employees in buying, renting or remodeling homes in the area. It’s part of a larger initiative to attract 15,000 young professionals downtown by 2015, according to Forbes’ Joann Muller.”

The complete list of “emerging downtowns”

  • Grand Rapids, Mich.
  • Detroit, Mich.
  • Denver, Colo.
  • El Paso, Texas
  • Des Moines, Iowa
  • Louisville, Ky.
  • Milwaukee, Wisc.
  • Cincinnati, Ohio
  • Birmingham, Ala.
  • Pittsburgh, Pa.
  • Memphis, Tenn.
  • Atlanta, Ga.
  • Cleveland, Ohio
  • Los Angeles, Calif.
  • New York, N.Y.

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