Bankrupt Detroit vows to become America's 'Comeback City'...but the gr...

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Bankrupt Detroit vows to become America's 'Comeback City'...but the grim reality for the decaying metropolis is revealed in these stunning pictures
By James Nye PUBLISHED: 23:13 EST, 23 July 2013 | UPDATED: 23:28 EST, 23 July 2013

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It was once the mighty Motor City. In Detroit's heyday, it was the place where workers in a rising middle class flocked to factories to build the cars that changed America's way of life. It was a city of innovation, of pride, of grit. Now, it has filed for bankruptcy. There are roughly 700,000 people left there, less than half of the 1.8 million who called the city home when population peaked in the 1950s. But voices from all round the city have called on Detroit to rise from its own ashes Defending his decision to approve America's largest ever bankruptcy filing in Detroit last week, Rick Snyder returned to a point that he has been hitting on since his successful run for governor in 2010: for Michigan to thrive, Detroit must prosper. 'We're the comeback state in Michigan, but to be a great state we need...Detroit on the path to being a great city again,' the Republican governor said at a press conference last week. Snyder is one of a growing number of voices arguing that strong economic growth for the only U.S. state to lose population in the past decade cannot come from Detroit's thriving suburbs or smaller prosperous cities, and that the state has an interest in helping Detroit recover.

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Bankrupt Detroit vows to become America's 'Comeback City'...but the gr...

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Decay: A vacant, boarded up house is seen in the once thriving Brush Park neighborhood with the downtown Detroit skyline behind it in Detroit, Michigan

'There's no such thing as a growing regional economy that is not anchored by a growing, vibrant urban core,' said Sandy Baruah, head of the Detroit Regional Chamber. But when it comes to shelling out money to help, Snyder faces a tough sell with Republicans who feel the city has received too much statewide largesse already. The governor has ruled out a state bailout to cover the city's $18.5 billion in long-term debt but has said repeatedly he wants to help the city. In June Snyder announced a $100 million blight removal program using federal dollars that would benefit Detroit and four other cities in Michigan. Conservatives say they are fed up with footing the bill for Detroit's mistakes and Detroit, a historically Democratic stronghold, should fix itself by cutting taxes and encouraging business.

Ruins: A man walks past a vacant, boarded-up home surrounded by overgrown grass in a once vibrant neighborhood, near downtown Detroit, Michigan on July 19th

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Bankrupt Detroit vows to become America's 'Comeback City'...but the gr...

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Former Glories: A vacant blighted home sits with overgrown weeds and bushes on West Grand Boulevard, a street once lined with houses, in Detroit, Michigan July 23, 2013

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Bankrupt Detroit vows to become America's 'Comeback City'...but the gr...

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Decrepit: A vacant blighted home is seen on a street that was once lined with houses in Detroit, Michigan July 23, 2013

'Snyder has won no friends on the left and his own political base thinks he's throwing good money after bad in Detroit,' said Bill Ballenger, a longtime pundit and publisher of Inside Michigan Politics. 'He's losing support in his own party.' Just as cities like Boston, which is a growth engine for Massachusetts with a high number of college graduates that help make it the No. 2 U.S. state for per capita income, Detroit was long the economic driver for Michigan. The Motor City was the cradle of the automotive industry, making Michigan the No. 9 state in terms of per capita income in 1950. According to the Michigan Future Inc think tank, states like Massachusetts, New York, Illinois and California have leveraged an established industrial base in order to produce high per capita income by taking advantage of the density of well-educated people in their urban cores. Detroit, even in its withered state, has highways and density enough to become such a platform for Michigan's resurgence. Last week, state-appointed emergency manager Kevyn Orr filed for Chapter 9 bankruptcy in order to tackle the city's $18.5 billion debt problem.

Another vacant blighted home is seen on West Grand Boulevard, a once thriving neighborhood, in Detroit

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Bankrupt Detroit vows to become America's 'Comeback City'...but the gr...

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Contrast: A ruined home is seen next to a well-kept occupied home on West Grand Boulevard in Detroit, Michigan July 23, 2013

Empty Family Home: Overgrown bushes, trees and grass surround a vacant home on West Grand Boulevard

The city's population fell 25 percent in the past decade to around 700,000, atrophied police and fire departments are ill-equipped to battle crime and arson, and basic infrastructure and city services desperately need repair. Michigan is stagnant, too, falling to 35th place among states in per capita income in 2012. Its employment base has lost 350,000 manufacturing jobs since 2000.

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Bankrupt Detroit vows to become America's 'Comeback City'...but the gr...

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The Detroit metropolitan area's gross domestic product accounts for nearly 46 percent of Michigan's GDP in 2011, the most recent year data is available. The U.S. auto industry has rebounded after a 2009 government bailout, but it is not expected to create many more new jobs.

Motor City: Downtown Detroit is seen looking south along Woodward Avenue in Detroit, Michigan July 21, 2013

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Future Regeneration: Downtown Detroit is seen from a vacant lot, looking south along Woodward Avenue, Michigan

Hopeful: A large "Opportunity Made In Detroit" banner is seen on the side of a building in downtown Detroit, Michigan

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Bankrupt Detroit vows to become America's 'Comeback City'...but the gr...

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Destroyed: Ilegally dumped tires sit in front of a vacant, blighted home in a once thriving neighborhood on the east side of Detroit, Michigan

David Egner, executive director of the New Economy Initiative, a $100 million fund to aid entrepreneurs in Detroit, said the chances of a comeback all come down to one word. 'Talent,' he said. 'If Detroit doesn't become a talent magnet, Michigan doesn't stand a prayer.' Companies can invest in Detroit at bargain rates, and in downtown, there have been some encouraging signs. Lou Glazer of think tank Michigan Future Inc notes that in late 2010, Google Inc paid more than $630 per square foot when it bought an office building in New York for $1.9 billion. Quicken Loans co-founder Dan Gilbert shelled out just $10 a foot for one downtown Detroit building a year later, part of the $1 billion he has invested in the past 18 months. Detroit's boosters credit Snyder for timely investments that build on Gilbert's and other investment by philanthropic foundations and social entrepreneurs. He has helped establish lighting and transit authorities for Detroit, launched development of a new light rail line downtown and has backed a planned new bridge across the Windsor River to Canada to boost trade that will be mostly funded by the Canadian government.

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Bankrupt Detroit vows to become America's 'Comeback City'...but the gr...

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A fire hydrant is seen with an "Out of Service" sign on a blighted street on the east side of Detroit, Michigan. Arson is a problem that has festered in the city for decades

Tragic: Graffiti "The Dream is Now' is seen painted on the roof of a vacant blighted home in a once vibrant neighborhood, near downtown Detroit

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Bankrupt Detroit vows to become America's 'Comeback City'...but the gr...

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Detroit is already the target for multiple state programs and tax provisions. Revenues from special levies add $164 million annually to Detroit revenues, a Snyder spokesman said. Michigan treasury department data show that for fiscal year 2013 Detroit was slated to receive nearly $260 per person from the state, several times what other cities in the state receive. But even with revenue sharing and special levies, payments to Detroit total around $360 million for the current year, less than 1 percent of the state budget. Convincing conservatives that Michigan should offer more help to Detroit can be a tall order. 'I am tired of tax money being sucked into that place to fix it,' said Tina Dupont, an activist at the Tea Party of West Michigan. 'But it's never fixed. We'd be better off without it.'

Overgrown grass and bushes surround a vacant blighted home in a once vibrant northwest neighborhood in Detroit, Michigan July 19, 2013. Investors dumped Detroit's municipal bonds a day after the city's historic bankruptcy filing

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Bankrupt Detroit vows to become America's 'Comeback City'...but the gr...

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Downtown Detroit, including the General Motors World Headquarters (2nd L), is pictured from a vacant lot along Woodward Avenue in Detroit, Michigan July 21, 2013

Conservatives have opposed the bridge in particular as an example of government over-spending. 'Just as we have supported Governor Snyder on conservative issues where we agree with him, we will continue to oppose him energetically on issues such as tax increases, healthcare or the bridge to Canada where we disagree with him,' said Scott Hagerstrom, Michigan state director of the conservative group Americans for Prosperity. After decades of mutual antipathy between solidly Democratic Detroit and Republican areas of the state, the city's boosters believe they have an ally in Snyder. 'Snyder knows he is not going to get any votes in Detroit regardless of what he does,' said Brian Farkas, executive director of the Detroit Blight Authority, a non-profit dedicated to targeting blight, arguably one of the city's worst problems. 'He's doing this because he knows it's the right thing to do.' Snyder's policies may have already dragged down his poll numbers. He faces a relative unknown in the 2014 gubernatorial race in former one-term Democratic Congressman Mark Schauer, but the two have been virtually tied in opinion polls. Joe Lehman, president of conservative think-tank the Mackinac Center for Public Policy, argues more state aid is not the answer. 'Detroit needs a game changer,' such as elimination of the city income tax, he said. Detroit emergency manager Orr has proposed lowering the city's income and property tax rates to levels competitive with surrounding communities. If the state does let Detroit sink or swim without aid, it could have consequences for the rest of the state, according to a July 1 note from BlackRock analysts, written before the bankruptcy filing. 'Michigan's failure to intervene on Detroit's behalf could result in higher interest rates for other municipalities across the state, as well as potential downgrades as the rating agencies assess... the implications of the state's actions (or lack thereof),' they said.

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Comments (14)
Newest Oldest Best rated Worst rated View newest 10 No way. - Smith, Michigan, United States, 24/7/2013 0:05 Click to rate Report abuse The policies that brought Detroit to their knees is everything that's wrong with Government. - DanStlMo, ST Louis Missouri, United States, 24/7/2013 0:04 Click to rate Report abuse Some of those dilapidated houses must have been beautiful at one time. I am puzzled as to why they were simply deserted? Surely the owners would not have just walked away and left them to rot? Something must have been really wrong for them to just abandon their homes? - Cassandra, East Anglia, United Kingdom, 23/7/2013 23:54 Click to rate Report abuse Good grief, DM... couldn't you have used the term BLIGHTED just one more time? - Ken57, Grand Rapids MI, United States, 23/7/2013 23:46 Click to rate Report abuse We need to bring work in USA. Instead of outsourcing to other countries! - cadence, Thousand oaks, United States, 23/7/2013 23:45 Click to rate Report abuse More bail out money...stat! - PelicansRTasty, Pgh, 23/7/2013 23:39 Click to rate Rating (0) Rating 2 Rating (0) Rating (0) Rating 1 Rating (0)

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Report abuse Just imagine what this area looked like at the turn of the 20th century. It must have been gorgeous with all those beautiful houses. It has since been taken over by a population that has no concern for the historical aspect of the area. It's a shame, really. - bluejayway67, Somewhere in Florida, United States, 23/7/2013 23:38 Click to rate Report abuse Capitalism will destroy every city just like detroit.. - John West London, Chelsea, United Kingdom, 23/7/2013 23:36 Click to rate Report abuse The real estate is cr*p there now. With China buying up all the U.S. metals and construction contractors all over the U.S. salvaging bricks (yes, they're actually paying companies to dredge landfills for trashed masonry. Antique brick is like gold today. Look it up. ) Detroit is not so much an area any company wants commerce and it's not an area any private investor wants to buy up useless land. It's a salvage yard. Period. That's the only thing Detroit will profit from for the next two years. Mark my word. They have to sell off their commodities: Art, Masonry, and Metal. That's all they have anymore. - J.L.Cole, Nashville TN, 23/7/2013 23:20 Click to rate Report abuse hmmmm Old Detroit.. sounds like a job for RoboCop. - me, here, 23/7/2013 23:18 Click to rate Report abuse Detroit is too far gone. Let it be a stark lesson to other cities and states illustrating what happens when you attack profitable businesses and elect bad leaders. You can only tax so much before the golden goose dies. - Cartman, Denver, 23/7/2013 22:59 Click to rate Report abuse This what would happened to whole America if Romney become a president - NN, San Francisco, 23/7/2013 22:58 Click to rate Report abuse This is such a shame, such beautiful buildings destroyed. I hope they are able to get out of this hole soon. - Becks, Tucson AZ, 23/7/2013 22:50 Click to rate Report abuse this is what you get after 60 years of the democrats in charge - armor, seattle, United States, 23/7/2013 22:50 Click to rate Report abuse America's future in photos under Obama. - Angel Eyes, Costa Blanca, 23/7/2013 22:46 Click to rate Report abuse A friend and I visited Detroit before the housing collapse and it was scary. I can't imagine what it's like now. You know it's bad when the local McDonald's has bullet-proof glass separating the customers from the cash registers. - TheGreatBambino, America, 23/7/2013 22:34 Click to rate Report abuse Rating 32 Rating 17 Rating 16 Rating 6 Rating 15 Rating 15 Rating (0) Rating 2 Rating 1 Rating 4

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Hunger games - first district! - Expat, Midwest, 23/7/2013 22:24 Click to rate Report abuse No, it's not going to take talent. It's going to take a populace that doesn't vote in every liberal schmuck political hack out there than promises them a free ride. The reason Detroit is in ashes is because everyone was looking for a handout, not a comeback story. Bringing Detroit back is going to take a return to conservatism that lasts. No handouts, Fewere laws but more rigorously enforced, less government interference. People can achieve miracles if the governments (state, local, and federal) just get out of the way. - cynthia brennemann, Belleville, 23/7/2013 22:08 Click to rate Report abuse Dump the leftwingers running Detroit and watch it come back like a phoenix rising from the ashes. Continue down the path to utopia and watch it rot. It is really that simple. - JackinFtLaud, Davie_Florida, United States, 23/7/2013 21:49 Click to rate Report abuse Rating 34 Rating 36 Rating 25

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