By Edward Cardenas
DETROIT (CBS Detroit) – Bob Gregory has seen the transformation of downtown Detroit firsthand.
The senior vice president of the Downtown Detroit Partnership has seen the heart of the city slowly transform with the addition of Campus Martius Park, new businesses moving into the Central Business District and growth in the population of the city center.
“10 years ago we were standing in a devastated, vacant part of downtown. Half of downtown was empty, today it is all coming back ,” said Gregory, as he stood in the midst of a vibrant afternoon in Campus Martius. “With retail on Woodward Avenue, this place I believe is going to rival Chicago, some great parts of Manhattan as well.”
As Detroit celebrates its 313 birthday, the city center is seeing growth, development and attention that hasn’t been seen in decades.
Occupancy rates for housing downtown 97.8 percent according to D:Hive, and the 7.2 SQ MI report found in the past two years there have been at least 10,000 jobs that have moved into the city in the past two years and nearly 20 new restaurants in the past three years.
“I felt when we first came here there wasn’t much activity going on downtown,” said Kristin Selle, who has lived in Detroit for four years and was hanging out near the beach in Campus Martius. “Now we come down here and there is just tons of people all the time.”
Grosse Pointe resident Simone Arora has worked downtown for three months and has spoke about the changes she has seen in the city while ordering from food trucks in Cadillac Square.
“I used to be kind of uncomfortable coming down here by myself,” she said. “Now I come down to the bars with my friends and I have no problem walking alone. Everything we are bringing in is good and it is really helping the economy.”
Randy Dickow is a business owner who has been growing with the city. He has owned Atlas Global Bistro for the past four years, and now is planning on opening two more restaurants downtown.
“The vibe downtown has been great,” said Dickow, during a busy lunch at Atlas. “We are really all about the growth of Detroit. (We) really embrace it, and we are excited to grow with it as well.”