It seems that the Detroit Economic Growth Corporation has rejected yet another proposal to keep activity on the ball field of former Tiger Stadium. The stadium at the corner of Michigan and Trumbull was demolished in 2009 after years of failed efforts by people from the preservation association. A major argument they presented was that there was absolutely no plan in place for the old stadium site and that it would sit vacant for the foreseeable future.
Flash forward to September 2011. The stadium site sits vacant, with every potential “interested party” not having a plan that works out. In the meantime, numerous proposals have come and gone, including a mixed use development which would have added some much needed retail to a Michigan Avenue which, frankly, needs some help.
There are numerous commercial opportunities that the site presents, there is no denying that: it is close to downtown, sits on a major road, and has great access to a freeway. In many major cities, there is no reason why this site shouldn’t be a tool of economic development, and my inner economist says it makes sense.
Except the city has already declined other forms of economic development. And the currently rejected proposal? An offer by General Motors to keep and maintain it as a park for children. For free. At no cost to anyone, manned by volunteers from within the GM empire. Yet the city is completely hell bent on keeping it open for developers.
In a city where people are lacking park space (let alone well maintained park space. Head up Trumbull to Scripps Park at the corner of Grand River and honestly tell me that such a place can serve the needs of the community. Or you can ask one of the patrons who seem to live there what they think of the situation) and has more vacant parcels of land than it knows what to do with, we are now telling children that the parcel should remain both un developed and un utilized until the right kind of developer comes along.
And what is the right kind of developer? Or the right kind of project?
The city wants a major project at the Tiger Stadium site.
The site offers freeway access, Jackson noted, making it appealing to retailers who would draw from beyond the immediate Corktown neighborhood.
Considering the rejection of previous mixed use retail, I can only conclude that the city is looking for more industrial. Detroit, who still continues to live in the 1950s. Detroit is the “elvis impersonator” of cities, trying things that were part of post WWII thinking and executing them poorly.
With the amount of vacant land available as well as old industrial sites, the city should be working to make those sites work (even if they will require brownfield redevelopment, something Tiger Stadium wouldn’t need) instead of telling the children of Detroit that they can’t play ball today. Economic opportunities for large projects are everywhere, but there is only one parcel people seem to care about preserving. Maybe they should be allowed to preserve it.