Detroit

The University of Michigan

Billionaire A. Alfred Taubman died Friday at home from a heart attack, according to the Associated Press. He was 91.

He led “an epic American life,” growing up a poor Jewish kid in Detroit, and going on to make a massive fortune by creating the modern shopping mall.

He also survived a major scandal in his later years, when he went to prison for price-fixing.

What’s more, Alfred Taubman was the second-largest donor ever to the University of Michigan.

Shipping container housing project underway in Detroit

Apr 17, 2015
Astrid Westvang / Creative Commons

A project that turns empty shipping containers into sustainable housing kicked off in Detroit this week.

Development firm Three Squared is using nine containers to construct a three story unit in the city's Corktown neighborhood. 

It's about to get easier to buy a home in Detroit

Apr 16, 2015
House Hands
thinkpanama / Creative Commons

A zero-down mortgage without closing costs, fees or a credit check probably sounds too good to be true, but it's about to become a reality for some Detroit home buyers.

Mayor Mike Duggan Thursday announced a new mortgage program to make it easier to finance a home in the city.

Courtesy Quicken Loans

As part of its five-year investment in Detroit, JPMorgan Chase conducted a study of the current state of the city's job force.

It released the report today, which details where there will be job openings, and what training will be needed to get those jobs. 

Chauncy Lennon is the head of workforce initiatives for JPMorgan Chase. 

"By providing people more opportunity, opportunities to get GEDs, opportunities to get other kinds of certificates and credentials, we'll be helping those folks really be in position to be candidates for these jobs."

Where did the iconic Detroit "D" come from?

Apr 16, 2015
Have you noticed the different Old English D's?
Paige Pfleger / Michigan Radio

The Old English "D" has become emblematic of the city of Detroit — it can be seen tattooed on forearms or stuck on the bumpers of cars, and of course, all over Comerica Park. The baseball team popularized the D, but where did it really come from, and why has the entire city rallied behind it?

That’s what Michael Hesser wanted to know.

Kate Wells

The Michigan Innocence Clinic is asking for a new trial for Davontae Sanford, who in 2007 was a developmentally disabled 14-year-old when he confessed to fatally shooting four people in a house on Runyon Street in Detroit.

Shortly after Sanford was tried as an adult and sentenced to prison, a hit man named Vincent Smothers was arrested and confessed to several murders – including the ones for which Sanford was convicted.

Smothers told police they had the wrong guy.

City of Detroit

Just eight months after it was set to be torn down, developers are preserving the historic Detroit recreation center where Joe Louis trained.

Olympia Development

There was a lot of frustrated head-shaking at city hall in Detroit today, as the city council yet again delayed a vote to let construction get going on the $650 million Red Wing arena and entertainment district.

Detroit can be model for how to do things right

Apr 13, 2015
Flickr/Michigan Municipal League

The Next Idea

When we hear the term “perfect storm,” the image that generally comes to mind is one of a high-level disaster.

The phrase is relatively new, though its use as the title of the 1993 Sebastian Junger novel which inspired the 2000 film of the same name has accelerated its use in the cultural lexicon.  However, no common dictionary definition for it exists. 

Campus Martius park.
Michigan Municipal League / Flickr

The American Civil Liberties Union says it's gotten Detroit to create new, interim rules to protect free speech and protests in public parks – even if those parks are privately managed.

The ACLU sued the city because it believes several protests were illegally shut down by private security at Campus Martius, a downtown park that's run by a private consortium.

Covering the planned Red Wings arena construction
User: WXYZ-TV Detroit / YouTube

Detroit's City Council is delaying a vote that would let the new, multi-million dollar Red Wings arena move ahead.

It was supposed to decide today whether Olympia development could go ahead with its current plans to build around one historic hotel, the Eddystone, while razing another, the Park Avenue.

Outline of proposed rezoning for Red Wing stadium.
Olympia Development

The Detroit City Council is scheduled take up a rezoning plan for the area around the new Red Wings Arena tomorrow. The proposal calls for demolishing the historic Hotel Park Avenue to make way for an underground loading dock.

But preservation groups aren't happy with the plan. Emilie Evans with the Michigan Historic Preservation Network says she supports new development, but she doesn't think "it needs to come at the cost of our historic properties and our historic architecture."

Virginia Gordan / Michigan Radio

Detroit Mayor Mike Duggan has announced a new program to grow neighborhood businesses and match them with the right physical space.

The program is called Motor City Match.

"There is tremendous interest among entrepreneurs who want to open or grow their businesses in the city of Detroit," said Duggan. "The Motor City Match program is designed to expand the growth we are seeing downtown, Midtown, and Corktown to key neighborhood corridors across our city." 

U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development

DETROIT – The federal government has ended 10 years of management of Detroit's public housing system and restored it to local control.

The U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development says in a statement Tuesday that the change is effective March 16. U.S. Housing Secretary Julian Castro says the update "represents an important milestone in Detroit's road to recovery."

University of Michigan Supermileage Team

Imagine how much money you'd save on gas if your car got 1,000 miles per gallon. 

That's the goal of the University of Michigan's Supermileage Team. They're competing in the Shell Eco Marathon in Detroit next week.

Christina Lumpkin at home with her daughter, Maya and grandson, Jahari.
Zak Rosen / Michigan Radio

Think about most of the news stories you read about kids in Detroit. What comes to mind?

Something about dysfunctional schools? Maybe a crime story?

When’s the last time you felt like a story transported you into the life of a family? Where you really got to know a child? Where you felt what it might be like to be a parent raising kids there?

Charles & Adrienne Esseltine / Flickr / Flickr

Catherine Martin says when she heard on TV this morning that Detroit Mayor Mike Duggan was going to announce a new program giving out zero-interest loans for home repairs, she knew she needed to get to that press conference.

So she called her son “who has one of those smart phones” at 6 a.m., asked him to Google the press conference address, and then took two buses to be there in time.

Lester Graham / Michigan Radio

The unemployment rate in Detroit is nearly double the statewide rate. Detroit residents need jobs. But too few people have marketable skills. What does it take to go from out-of-work to trained and employed?

For 30 years a group in Detroit has been training people to go to work as machinists, in IT, and beginning this year, in health care.

Paige Pfleger / Michigan Radio

A bus company in Detroit sees a future for the city where every kid can get a ride to their after-school programs, and then back to their door for free. 

Virtually everyone who doesn’t have a political reason to pretend otherwise would agree that the Detroit public schools are a dreadful failure.

More than three-quarters of its students have fled the district in the last 14 years. Test scores remain appallingly low, and a succession of emergency managers has failed to stabilize the finances. Most children in the district now go to charters, private schools or schools in the suburbs, a clear vote of no confidence by Detroit parents.

Fatima Mixon shows her Focus: HOPE certificate. She got a job because of the training program.
Lester Graham / Michigan Radio

If you live in Detroit, getting a job is just the first hurdle. Sometimes you have to be incredibly resourceful just to get to work.

After finishing her training at Focus: HOPE to become a machinist, Fatima Mixon did not find a job in the city of Detroit.

But she did get a job in Warren, Michigan. She was put on the midnight to 8:00 a.m. shift. Shift work is the worst for people who need to take the bus to work. The buses don’t run overnight.

Arielle Solomon / Flickr

Developers want to turn Detroit's old state fairgrounds into 160 acres of senior living, apartments, shopping, small parks, and space for Wayne County Community College.

Those plans were unveiled to the public in detail this week.

LEG Management

The first federally-funded housing projects for African-American families were built in Detroit in the 1930s. They were the Brewster-Douglass Housing Projects, located on Detroit’s near-east side.

If you want to hear why they were built, listen to our recent story here. Mary Wilson from The Supremes tells us about what she learned from growing up in the projects, in a story you can listen to here

For the most part, former residents who lived in the area in the 1940s, 50s, and 60s speak highly of their time in the projects. But life in the Brewsters got much tougher in the 1970s and '80s.

FLICKR USER HEINRICH KLAFFS / FLICKR / Yusef Lateef visualized his music in his drawings, said Alhena Katsof, curator of "Yusef Lateef: Towards the Unknown."

Yusef Lateef – a master musician, composer, writer and artist – died in 2013. However, his history lives on in Detroit, the city where he came of age musically and otherwise. He went on to become one of the first artists to combine jazz with world music.

This Friday, an exhibition called Yusef Lateef: Towards the Unknown will open in the Trinosophes art space on Gratiot in Detroit. It will run through May 10. 

Rebecca Mazzei, co-owner of Trinosophes, thinks the exhibition will be important for all people to see – whether they’re familiar with Lateef’s work or not. She said the exhibit will speak to “why he was so important to the city and why the city was so important to him,” though she added that he also brought some “important cultural movements to the national scene as well.”

While central business districts in Detroit are seeing the beginnings of resurgence, the neighborhoods are lagging behind. People who live in the city need jobs. To get them, many need new skills. In the second of a series of reports for the Detroit Journalism Cooperative, we're following a student who is trying to get the training she needs to help her family.

In the first report, I introduced you to Fatima Mixon. She’s been studying at Focus: HOPE to become a machinist. A few weeks after I first met her at the school, I visited Mixon and her family at home.

Nationaal Archief (Dutch National Archives)

Today on Stateside, we’re getting the inside scoop from former residents of the Brewster-Douglass housing projects about what it was like growing up in the Detroit projects. 

Their answers are overwhelmingly positive.

Ruby Straughter lived in the Brewster-Douglass projects from 1957 to 1972. She remembers people in the projects taking good care of each other.

“If a family couldn’t pay rent, neighbors would throw a rent party and they’d give the money to whomever needed the rent paid.”

She says no one ever went hungry or made fun of anyone else for being poor. Straughter remembers parents were strict with their own kids, and looked out for other people’s children as well.

There was also lots and lots of singing in the Brewsters. People sang four-part harmonies on street corners, in the parks, on porches and in the stairwells, where the echo was best.

But why was music such a huge part of living there? 

The unemployment rate in Detroit is nearly double the statewide rate. Detroit residents need jobs. But too few people have marketable skills. What does it take to go from out-of-work to trained and employed?

For 30 years a group in Detroit has been training people to go to work as machinists, in IT, and beginning this year, in health care.

“When folks come out of here with that Focus: HOPE stamp of approval, you can be certain that you’re getting somebody who should work out pretty doggone well in your workplace,” said William Jones, CEO of Focus: HOPE.

Emil Lorch collection/Bentley Historical Library/University of Michigan

All this week on Stateside, we’re looking at the history of the Brewster-Douglass Housing Projects in Detroit. If you’ve ever wondered about why they were created or what it was like to live in them, we’d love to fill you in with our three-part series. Here's part one:

If you remember the projects, you might picture the six identical high-rises on the city’s near east side. Those were the Frederick-Douglass Towers, and they were built in the 1950s and finally destroyed in 2014.

FLICKR USER 21INNOVATE / FLICKR

 In the spirit of the Irish on this St. Patrick’s Day, let’s peek back through their history in Detroit, where the Corktown neighborhood wears its Irish heritage proudly.

In an article for the Detroit News entitled, Irish helped form Detroit for centuries, Bill Loomis sifts through the several “waves” of Irish immigrants to Detroit, the first of which came in the early 1800s.

Detroit orders inspections to find broken hydrants

Mar 16, 2015
Downtown Charlottesville fire hydrant
Ben Schumin

Detroit officials have ordered inspections for all 30,000 of the city’s fire hydrants to figure out which are frozen or broken.

The city’s firefighters have reported about 1,000 broken hydrants since the beginning of December.

Jeff Pegg, president of the Detroit Fire Fighters’ Association, said broken hydrants mean big risks for fire fighters and the citizens they’re supposed to protect.

“If the hydrant is frozen, then you have to go to the hydrant down the street,” Pegg said. “The further you go, the more problems, because of the longer distance you have to travel.”

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