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New census pop. estimates show what cities in metro Detroit grew last year and which shrank

According to the U.S. Census Bureau's 2014 population estimates, which were released last week, Michigan is growing for the third straight year, albeit at a modest rate. While Detroit is still losing population as it has done for decades, the rate of loss is slowing.
"Detroit shed an estimated 6,424 residents last year — about 1 percent of its population — and has lost an estimated 30,945 residents since 2010," writes MLive's Jonathan Oosting.
So what are the fastest growing communities in southeast Michigan between 2013 and 2014? In Wayne, Oakland, and Macomb counties, the answer is outlying townships.
In Wayne County, which itself lost 1 percent of its population last year, Brownstown and Canton charter townships experienced the greatest rate of growth.
In Oakland County, whose population grew by 0.5 percent, Lyon and Oakland charter townships grew the fastest.
Washtenaw County's population grew by 0.6 percent, with Macomb and Washington townships leading the way.
The cities that declined in population throughout metro Detroit tended to be near suburbs and central cities.
Read more in MLive and the Detroit Free Press.

Millenials want to live in cities, but can't afford to stay downtown

A recent report from the Urban Land Institute (ULI) flips what has become conventional wisdom about millennials on its head. For years, the thinking has been that millennials want to live in downtowns – places that afford them the "live, work, and play" lifestyle.  Yet recent research indicates that millennials can't afford downtowns and are choosing cheaper city neighborhoods outside of central business districts.
The ULI writes in a press release, "Contrary to popular belief, most Millennials are not living the high life in the downtowns of large cities, but rather are living in less centrally located but more affordable neighborhoods, making ends meet with jobs for which many feel overqualified, and living with parents or roommates to save money."
Read more on ULI's website.

How does Michigan rank in terms of bike friendliness?

Not well. According to a recent study by the League of American Bicyclists, Michigan ranks 18th out of 50 states, dropping four spots since 2014.
A number of factors went into calculating each state's bike friendliness, including the percentage of commuters cycling to work, whether or not a state has a complete streets policy (Michigan does), and the amount of dedicated state funding going towards cycling infrastructure.
Washington and Minnesota topped the list, while Kentucky and Alabama scored the lowest.
To learn more about the League of American Bicyclists' bike friendly state rankings, click here.

RTA launches regional transit planning process

On Tuesday, May 12, the Regional Transit Authority of Southeast Michigan (RTA) announced the kickoff of a process to create a regional transit master plan at Campus Martius Park in downtown Detroit.
According to Crain's Detroit Business, the RTA announced that it would study Woodward, Michigan, and Gratiot avenues as potential routes for bus rapid transit lines as well as create a single master transit plan for the region that is being referred to as "Building Equitable Sustainable Transit," or BEST.
Read more about the RTA's recently announced transit planning process in Crain's Detroit Busines.

NY Times study of best and worse places to grow up shows dramatic inequality in metro Detroit

In a recent study by the New York Times that analyzes the best and worst places to grow up in the United States, metro Detroit counties exhibit extremely varied outcomes for children.

According to the Times, Wayne County is "among the worst counties in the U.S. in helping poor children up the income ladder. It ranks 112th out of 2,478 counties, better than only about 5 percent of counties. It is relatively worse for poor boys than it is for poor girls."

Macomb County, on the other hand, ranks significantly higher. "It’s one of the better counties in the U.S. in helping poor children up the income ladder," writes the Times. "It ranks 1,561st out of 2,478 counties, better than about 63 percent of counties."

Somewhat surprising is that Oakland County, one of the wealthiest counties in the state, is "below average in helping poor children up the income ladder. It ranks 870th out of 2,478 counties, better than about 35 percent of counties. It is relatively worse for poor boys than it is for poor girls."

Learn more about the best and worst places to grow up in metro Detroit and the rest of the U.S. in the New York Times.

Cranbrook opens its gardens to the public all summer long

A national historic landmark, the campus of Cranbrook in Bloomfield Hills is one of the most picturesque destinations in metro Detroit. This summer, thanks to financial support from PNC Bank, Roberts Restaurant Group, and Meijer, you will be able to enjoy much of that beauty for free.
Throughout the 2015 season, the Cranbrook Gardens will be open daily to the public with no charge for admission.
"The gardens are part of the estate of Cranbrook's founders, Ellen and George Booth," writes IXITI. "The home is the oldest of metropolitan Detroit's historic manors. Its gardens, works of art and first-floor appointments are preserved as a testament to the Booths' gracious lifestyle, their interest in landscape gardening and their involvement in the American Arts and Crafts movement."
Read more on IXITI, "the experience engine for southeast Michigan."

Eastland joins the ranks of troubled metro Detroit malls

On the heels of the closing of Southfield's Northland Center, one of the oldest indoor malls in the U.S., Sherri Welch of Crain's Detroit Business is reporting that the management group of Harper Woods' Eastland Mall has missed a payment on a $37.43 million loan tied to the property.
In the wake of Sears pulling out of Eastland in 2012, the mall is at just over 75 percent occupancy, well below the 90 percent that is deemed healthy for a shopping center of East Land's size.
Read more in Crain's Detroit Business.
In the coming weeks, Metromode will look into how metro Detroit communities are dealing with the loss of major retail anchors and examine innovative models for repurposing vacant shopping malls from around the country.

You can walk all the way around Michian's coastline without trespassing on private property

Did you know that it is completely legal for you to walk the entire coastline of Michigan (all 2,200 miles!) without trespassing on private property? Chastity Pratt Dawsey writes in a recent piece for Bridge Magazine that "Michigan law allows anyone to traverse the state's coast along the water's edge up to the ordinary high water mark of the land without being guilty of trespassing on private property."
For this reason, several advocates argue that Michigan would make a great starting point and centerpiece for an officially designated 10,000-mile walking trail around the Great Lakes.
Read more about the potential for a Great Lakes coastline walking trail in Bridge Magazine.

Metro Detroit's housing market is surging into spring

Thanks to low mortgage rates, the increasing availability of financing to working people, and a recovering economy, "metro Detroit's housing market is set to turn a corner this spring and become hotter for buyers and sellers," writes J.C. Reindl in the Detroit Free Press.
While values in some Detroit suburbs are still down as much as 20 percent from their peak values in the mid-2000s, Reindl reports that "some neighborhoods [are] seeing yearly gains of 10 percent or more, due in part to a thin supply of move-in-ready houses."
Oakland County is seeing the most significant rise in home sales, which are up by 17 percent countywide since the same time last year. Wayne County has experienced a 13 percent increase in median sales price since last year.
Read more about the state of metro Detroit's housing market in the Detroit Free Press.

Is metro Detroit the next Silicon Valley? Is Silicon Valley the next Detroit?

Metro Detroit and Silicon Valley are about as different from one another as two places can be. After all, Detroit's a blue collar manufacturing town while the Valley is the center of the white collar tech universe.
Yet Bruce Katz of the Brookings Institution's Metropolitan Policy Program contends that these two iconic regions may actually be becoming more alike than different.
Katz writes:
"Increasingly, manufacturing has gone high-tech in Detroit, while the Silicon Valley/San Jose region has seen an uptick in manufacturing…
It would surprise no one that San Jose and Silicon Valley have the highest concentration of advanced industries workers in the country, with 30% of all jobs in the metro area in one of these R&D and STEM-intensive industries. While some might think Facebook FB 0.57% and Twitter TWTR dominate the Valley, manufacturing actually employs nearly half (46.1%) of workers. These 134,000 workers produce everything from semiconductors to computer equipment to aerospace parts and pharmaceuticals.
The reverse dynamic is at play in Detroit. While the automotive industry accounts for over one-third of all advanced industry employment, services still employ almost half. Over 32,000 professionals in the Detroit metro area are employed in the computer systems design sector alone—many of which feed into the larger automotive supply chain."
To learn more about how the economies of Detroit and Silicon Valley are becoming more similar, read Katz's piece for the Brookings Institution.

Thrillist Detroit ranks the 16 best bars in Detroit's suburbs

The city of Detroit is a drinking town. From Belle Isle to 8 Mile, the city chock full of great bars, new and old. But as Nicole Rupersburg writes in a recent piece for Thrillist Detroit, "there's plenty to love about the area just beyond Detroit's borders." So she did you a favor and listed her 16 favorite bars in Detroit's suburbs. From the epic beer selection at the Berkely Front to the magical burger at Miller's Bar in Dearborn, you can't go wrong with any of these suggestions.
Read more on Thrillist Detroit.

Is a sensible public transit connection to Metro Airport in the works?

"Imagine taking a bus directly from downtown Detroit to Metro Airport at a modest cost," writes Eric D. Lawrence of the Detroit Free Press. In virtually every other major American metropolis, such a thought wouldn't require any imagination – it would be reality. In Detroit, however, we've been dreaming of a direct public transit connection to the airport for decades.
Now, however, those dreams could become a reality.
According to the Free Press, "The Regional Transit Authority is fine-tuning a request for proposal with assistance from the Wayne County Airport Authority for a bus service that would link Detroit, as well as Wayne, Oakland and Macomb counties, to the airport."
Hooray! It's about damn time. Now let's hope local leaders and agencies have the will to make it happen.
Read more in the Detroit Free Press.

Michigan's shrinking middle class

The American middle class is shrinking, and Michigan is no exception.

According to a recent post on the Pew Charitable Trusts' Stateline Blog, "A new Stateline analysis shows that in all 50 states, the percentage of "middle-class" households—those making between 67 percent and 200 percent of the state's median income—shrunk between 2000 and 2013. The change occurred even as the median income in most states declined, when adjusted for inflation."

In Michigan, the percentage of "middle class" households shrunk from 50.6 percent to 43.6 percent between 2000 and 2013. Over the same period, the state's median household income declined from $61,551 to $48,273 and the percentage of households spending 30 percent of that income on housing grew from 24 percent to 31 percent.

To see how Michigan stacks up against other states, visit Stateline Blog.

Retail vacancy down in metro Detroit, but construction of new retail space lags

While new retail businesses are steadily opening metro Detroit, that influx is not translating into the construction of new retail spaces, reports Dustin Walsh of Crain's Detroit Business. In fact, the construction of new retail square footage in the region is at a 30-year low.

Retail construction peaked in metro Detroit in 1998, but has tapered off dramatically in recent years.
Local commercial real estate expert Jim Bieri tells Walsh that this is due to the use of existing space that was left over from closures and consolidations of retail businesses throughout the region.
Read more in Crain's Detroit Business.

3 metro Detroit chefs nominated for Food & Wine's People's Best New Chef award

Sylvia Rector of the Detroit Free Press is reporting that three local chefs -- Garrett Lipar of Torino in Ferndale, James Rigato of the Root in White Lake Township and Marc Djozlija of Wright & Company in Detroit -- have been nominated for Food & Wine magazine's annual People's Best New Chef award.
The winner of this national award will be decided by public online voting. Cast your vote here.
Read more in the Detroit Free Press.
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