The two Detroits: a city both collapsing and gentrifying at the same time

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The two Detroits: a city both collapsing and gentrifying at the same time
Photograph © Rebecca Cook/Reuters/Corbis

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The two Detroits: a city both collapsing and gentrifying at the same time
Photograph © Rebecca Cook/Reuters/Corbis

James Cadariu was born and bred in a neighbourhood that’s now falling to pieces. In the late 1980s, Cadariu’s mother and brother were held up at gunpoint in the east side of Detroit. They fled for the suburbs, part of the massive “white flight” that helped turn Detroit from a bustling city of two million into a city of under 700,000. Those who stuck it out became unwilling icons of the supposed decline of the American empire, the subject of a thousand news articles, documentaries and books.

Cadariu, now 44, was sick of seeing his city like that. So he came back. He now co-owns Great Lakes Coffee Roasting Company, which has a retail outlet on Woodward Ave in Midtown and sells fairtrade coffee for about $4 a cup. It sits across from a Whole Foods, down the street from a craft brewery and right along the M-1, a new streetcar line that will connect midtown with downtown – two neighbourhoods that have seen their fortunes rise as Detroit emerges from bankruptcy and attracts new businesses, infrastructure and residents at rates not seen in decades.

“I’ve seen Detroit as a large city. I’ve seen it decline,” Cadariu said. “But I’ve never seen as much growth downtown as I do now. A lot of times we get crap because there are a bunch of white hipsters opening businesses, but we have the same vision: seeing people back here.” ….

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