Posts Tagged ‘Andrew Basile Jr.’

Detroit’s urban biking: Attracting young professionals

Monday, March 7th, 2011

It’s often a challenge for the city of Detroit to compete with its suburbs in terms of schools, taxes, and city services. But there’s one feature most of the suburbs — especially the exurbs — can’t compete with Detroit: walkability and bikeability.

And this is critical as Gen Yers are less in love with cars and McMansions. They are shunning car dependence and showing a preference for more dense urban areas. And place matters.

So it’s not a surprise that Detroit Mayor Dave Bing is picking up on this.

Attracting young professionals to Detroit is a key piece to revitalizing the city and improving the economy, Mayor Dave Bing said Friday during his annual address to the business community.

Even as the city continues to lose residents, Bing said, young people are moving in and bringing creative ideas, fresh energy and investments with them.

That’s why Bing said he plans to make Midtown, a popular spot for young professionals and artists, an important component of his ambitious plan to reshape the city by creating denser neighborhoods with better services.

But Midtown has something most areas don’t — colleges, art galleries, bike paths, theaters, condos, boutiques and an eclectic assortment of bars and restaurants, all within walking distance of each other.

Okay, the bike paths aren’t in Midtown yet, but some are under construction and many more are planned.

While Bing appears to get it, we’re not sure other Metro communities do. But they should.

Theater of the Absurd

And if they don’t, they need to read this email from Andrew Basile, Jr., a patent attorney with Young Basile. It’s a must read.

If you don’t have the time, here are some highlights (emphasis ours).

We’d like to stay in Michigan, but we have a problem… Our problem is access to talent…  Most qualified candidates live out of state and simply will not move here, even though they are willing to relocate to other cities. Our recruiters are very blunt.  They say it is almost impossible to recruit to Michigan without paying big premiums above competitive salaries on the coasts.

Having moved here from California five years ago, I will testify that Metro Detroit is a very hard place to live.  Ask any former Detroiter in California, and you will hear a consistent recital of the flaws that make Metro Detroit so unattractive.  Things are spread too far apart.  You have to drive everywhere.  There’s no mass transit.  There are no viable cities.  Lots of it is really ugly, especially the mile after mile of sterile and often dingy suburban strip shopping and utility wires that line our dilapidated roads (note above). There’s no nearby open space for most people  (living in Birmingham, it’s 45 minutes in traffic to places like Proud Lake or Kensington).  It’s impossible to get around by bike without taking your life in your hands. Most people lead sedentary lifestyles. There’s a grating “car culture” that is really off-putting to many people from outside of Michigan.  I heard these same complaints when I left 25 years ago.  In a quarter century, things have only gotten considerably worse.

It truly is a great letter that shows how this area for the most part is not investing in place, nor walkability or bikability. And not doing a good job attracting young professionals, much less retaining those that are already here.

But if the Mayor has his way, Midtown will be an exception.