Development or Gentrification? – Detroit Community-Engaged Research Program

Development or Gentrification?

This week it was announced that what was once known as Black Bottom will be developed into Paradise Valley Cultural and Entertainment district. Historically, Black Bottom was a predominately African American neighborhood filled with Black owned businesses. Unfortunately, the neighborhood was demolished and redeveloped in the 1960s and replaced with Lafeyette Park. Today, the area is being redeveloped again into Paradise Valley. The redevelopment will cost over 50 million dollars. It includes luxury and affordable housing, a jazz club, an expanded restaurant, and a boutique hotel. The five developers, most of which are African American, hope that this project will help to keep the Black culture prevalent within the city amongst the other development projects.

However, I find their to “development” to be gentrification with a hint of Black culture. I may not be an expert on what the city of Detroit needs, but I have a hard time believing the citizens are begging for a boutique hotel. Also, I find it unfortunate that the developers did not try to partner with the Carr Center, a non-profit arts group that focuses on African American culture, to help with their financial troubles instead of kicking them out for their “development” efforts. A group of developers probably know how to turn a non-profit around, especially if their goal is to protect African American culture in Detroit. I wonder if the developers even talked with community members about what they wanted for Paradise Valley.

One of the things that made Black Bottom so amazing was the fact that the business were not only Black-owned, but businesses the community wanted and needed. If the developers wanted to help the community, they should hold a listening session, create businesses that benefit the city, and become the solution to gentrification. So, in the end this development project seems to be gentrification, but for once African Americans are the face of the destruction to Detroit.


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