Downtown Detroit has been undergoing a renaissance in recent years which is in stark contrast to the economic and social situation in much of the rest of the city. This renaissance has been taking place despite the city’s ability to provide good municipal services such as streetlights, security, public space and transport. This article focuses on how four areas which constitute part of Greater Downtown Detroit have relied on different combinations of actors to create and provide the services and amenities deemed necessary for capital investment and middle-class consumption. Each area has its own initiatives and actors who implement them, further fragmenting the city between its core and periphery. Renewed public spaces, private police forces and resident initiatives in middle-class neighborhoods have been created to serve specific needs of the small areas they serve. Rather than being unique, Detroit is an extreme example of fragmented and polarized urbanism which is part and parcel of contemporary cities. We argue that rather than passively reflecting existing socio-spatial divides, these private initiatives in Greater Downtown Detroit actively contribute to the production of sociospatial inequalities across the city.

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Journal of Housing and the Built Environment
Erasmus University College (EUC)

Doucet, B., & Smit, E. (2016). Building an urban ‘renaissance’: fragmented services and the production of inequality in Greater Downtown Detroit. Journal of Housing and the Built Environment, 31(4), 635–657. doi:10.1007/s10901-015-9483-0