Seven places Drew Sharp should visit before ever talking about Detroit again

If you could build a soccer stadium in Detroit – and hopefully some black people will be in attendance if it’s built – where would you build it? Quicken Loans founder Dan Gilbert and Detroit Pistons owner Tom Gores want to build that theoretical stadium in downtown Detroit. Is there anywhere else worthy of a stadium?

Personally, we here at BLAC think there’s plenty of room in Detroit to build a stadium anywhere; pardon our “if you build it, they will come” optimism. But when posed a similar question on WDIV’s “FlashPoint” talker this weekend, Detroit Free Press columnist Drew Sharp caught viewers off guard when he commented that not only was downtown the only viable place to build the stadium (he might be half-right there, actually), but that downtown Detroit was “the only part of the city that’s salvageable.”

Salvageable?

It’s not the most boneheaded comment to come from a Freep sports columnist recently. (Good thing rape and women's bodies didn’t come up in this convo, amirite?) But it’s certainly short-sighted. To suggest that downtown is the only place worth investing in and that all the rest of Detroit is, well, not, is highly offensive to Detroiters, and only lends to a theory that many journalists may cover Detroit, but don’t know Detroit.

Or maybe it was an oversight. Filming TV isn’t as easy as it looks, and sometimes our brains don’t line up with our mouths and the wrong things slip out when there’s a camera in your face. Either way, we’d like to introduce Mr. Sharp to some other “salvageable” areas in Detroit. It’s not an exhaustive list, but it certainly covers some basics.

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1. Midtown: Midtown gets a bulk of attention, for sure. You can even read plenty about Midtown in the Free Press! Has Sharp heard of the many things going on there? Let's talk about the many new apartment and condominium developments going up, the luxe shops on Canfield (there’s a popular watch store there called “Shinola,” not sure if you’ve heard of it), the array of black-owned businesses like Source Booksellers, Goodwells and Flo Boutique, and the fact that it’s, oh, literally right next to downtown and thus primed for the kind of “salvageable” activity that goes on there.

2. North End and New Center: Thanks to the QLine going up Woodward, folks are taking a second look at the neighborhoods north of Midtown, with lovely historic homes on the North End side and condos and apartments on the New Center side. There’s also the Fisher Building (certainly Sharp is familiar with WJR, whose offices are there) and the New Center Park, which has plenty of free activity during the summer months.

3. Rosedale-Grandmont: Does Sharp have any black friends? Certainly he’s heard of Rosedale Park, which is where black folks in his circle (even a few of his co-workers at one point or another) have lived for quite some time now. There’s also new businesses popping up on the Grand River stretch – thanks in part to the efforts of the Grandmont Rosedale Development Corporation – like Pages Bookshop, Everything Detroit (check out our May issue for more on that shop) and Always Brewing Detroit.

4. Southwest Detroit: Aside from the fact that soccer is hugely popular in Latin American countries and there’s a buttload of Latin Americans that just happen to live in Southwest (that is, if Sharp is aware of this), there are many “salvageable” pieces of Southwest, like Mexicantown, Clark Park, the many Catholic churches, the stately homes in Hubbard-Richard. Rumor has it there’s a bridge on that side of town, and if you listen real close, you’ll hear the traffic of the world’s largest international border crossing.

5. Jefferson-Chalmers, or really anywhere in the vicinity of the riverfront: For simple geography’s sake, let’s say the “salvageable” part of downtown ends at Jefferson and 375. If you head up Jefferson, you’ll pass by the Dequindre Cut, Lafayette Park, the Gold Coast, the Riverwalk, Belle Isle, Indian Village, West Village and Jefferson-Chalmers, which has quietly been rebounding thanks to aggressive blight-removal efforts and grants to bring business to the Detroit side of the Alter Road border.

6. Palmer Park and Palmer Woods: You probably couldn’t drop a stadium in the middle of Palmer Woods, but you could certainly salvage the neighborhoods nearby – including Palmer Park, whose apartment buildings are being restored one by one. We’re not sure if Sharp heard of the new Meijer or the other stores in the Gateway Marketplace, which is just on the other side.

7. The Livernois-Six Mile corridor: Without giving away the goods just yet, the Live6 area is something else you can read about in our May issue – but efforts to “salvage” this area, which includes Marygrove College, the University of Detroit Mercy and a bunch of still-occupied neighborhoods in between are under way.

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