I was born and raised in Detroit, but prior to my summer internship with the Rock Ventures Public Relations team, I didn’t have much experience in what downtown Detroit had to offer – especially since its revitalization.
Don’t believe me? I know, sometimes it’s hard for me to believe it, especially since I live about 20 minutes north of the downtown area on the city’s northwest side and I’m also a student at Wayne State University (a university in Detroit’s Midtown neighborhood).
Honestly, it’s always been easier to spend my leisure time in the northern suburbs since they’re closer to where I live. It was just more convenient to go to dinner or shop outside of the city. The most I did downtown was spend a few hours at the riverfront and go to a few concerts at Joe Louis Arena. Now, because of my internship, I’m trying to experience as much as I can. This is not the downtown Detroit I remember from 10, 12 years ago, when it was virtually the complete opposite of how it is now. There were no people walking around, having lunch outside – essentially no activity present at all. Now, it’s completely different and you can see it changing right before your eyes! I love that it is an area that’s on-the-move, vibrant and is on the right track to rival Chicago or New York City.
In downtown Detroit, you’re offered something that’s more personal. It exudes a sense of pride because you know that there’s no other major city out there that offers what Detroit is at this moment. Detroit actually offers a piece of every major city.
In other cities, there’s always that one place that’s intimate and offers a touch of seclusion with dim lighting and brick walls. Based on my experience, Cornerstone Barrel House on Woodward Avenue is the best example. It’s a bar on the corner of a major street in the heart of the city, with huge storefront windows that allow people to see Detroit on the move – and imagine the view once the M-1 RAIL is complete while enjoying their amazing food.
Retail also plays a very instrumental role in Detroit’s comeback. Who doesn’t like exclusive fashion and looking your best?
Detroit retail is unique, eclectic and exclusive. Take Nojo Kick, whose grand opening drew in hundreds of guests, even Brooklyn rapper Fabolous. They are the epitome of “sneakerhead culture.” They offer something that’s different, new and what Footlocker and Champs can’t – exclusive merchandise stored in premium materials. When you walk in the store, you get a big city vibe with all the shoes placed along the walls and a view of the city movement outside.
But it’s not just retail newcomers who are getting their footprints into Detroit revitalization. Clothing store veteran, Hot Sam’s has been one of the places for Detroit’s more mature and distinguished gentlemen. The store provides for both white and blue collar, and also for local socialites, judges, pro-athletes, politicians and celebrities since opening in 1921. To me, a store like Hot Sam’s reminds me of the stories I hear from my granddad about the golden years of Detroit when fashion and tailored suits were the norm. This store keeps Detroit authentic, ensuring its history is not completely gone, especially through all the redevelopment.
The downtown experience is one for everyone. Imagine just how much more vibrant the heart of the city will be once others understand that the “new” Detroit is a place with endless opportunity to have fun and enjoy life. It’s hard to not see it; it’s there when you walk down the street. There’s a spirit in this city that never really left, but is being renewed after all the turmoil throughout the years. And for me, since Detroit is moving in the right direction, I can’t wait to see what happens along the way because its current road has endless possibilities.
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