DETROIT (WWJ) – A new report shows downtown Detroit’s population is younger, wealthier, better educated more racially diverse than that of other parts of the city.

The Hudson Webber Foundation report, titled “7.2 Square Miles” — the size of the downtown area from New Center to Rivertown–  documents the changing face of the city’s greater downtown.

Foundation spokesperson Katy Locker said they found 42 percent of downtown residents have a college education and per capita income 33 percent higher than Detroit as a whole.

She said the study was done by reviewing census records, surveys of rental properties and by observation.

 – View a copy of the report (.pdf format) – 

“There’s 5,000 people per square mile. The population in greater downtown has declined at a slower rate than overall in the city … foreign-born population is greater downtown than citywide or the state,” Locker said.  “There’s a significant percentage of young talent — those who are between the age of 25 to 34, with a Bachelor’s Degree, choosing to live in greater downtown.”

Something else observers found — there are a lot of non-drivers, with over 2,000 pedestrians and over 80 bicycles per hour passing key downtown blocks.

“There’s always been some people biking in Detroit, but now you pass most bike racks in downtown and midtown and they’re full — even in the winter, which is something we all have to learn from,” Locker said. “What can we be doing to encourage these alternate modes of transport?  And consider how can we best support that community that wants to use or has to use their bike to get around.”

So, what’s driving the growth? Part of it, said Locker, is due to the work of entrepreneur Dan Gilbert and others investing in the area.

“I believe this is a partnership of many people. I think that the anchor institutions in Midtown Detroit   — Wayne State University, Detroit Medical Center, Henry Ford Health System, the cultural institutions, the riverfront — all these things that have been coming together,” she said.

It’s hoped the report can be a recruiting tool to convince future investors and developers to consider the downtown area.