Downtown Living: Experience the Charm and Culture of Detroit

By: Toni Cunningham | December 29, 2012

As a recent college graduate, I know how much of a hassle packing up all your belongings and moving to a new place can be. In order to eliminate this stressful scenario, settle down somewhere you can call home for years to come.

Living in Detroit has numerous perks, including 130 bars and restaurants within walking distance, not to mention three major sports stadiums, the RiverWalk and Campus Martius Park.

Jeanette Pierce, Director of Community Relations at D:hive, a non-profit organization specializing in all things Detroit, says there has been a huge influx of young, talented professionals in the greater downtown area in recent years, creating a high demand for new living space.

“There have been a lot of new developments happening throughout all of the greater downtown neighborhoods,” Pierce said. “It’s been the first time in a while that Detroit has seen this level of new construction and projects dealing with housing.”

She credits the Broderick Tower, the David Whitney Building and the planned Capitol Park developments for drawing people to live in the downtown area. The Riverfront area is also blossoming, with several high-rise condos and a growing number of loft-style apartments lining the Detroit River.

Sounds great so far! But one of the first questions that comes to mind regarding living downtown is, “where would I buy my groceries?”

I was surprised to learn that Detroit has over 100 fully functioning grocery stores. While you won’t find any supercenters downtown (not yet at least, Meijer and Whole Foods are slated to open next year), Detroit provides a unique shopping experience.

“Living downtown, you can go to Eastern Market for fresh produce and meats, Honeybee Market for authentic Mexican foods, Avalon bakery for fresh breads and treats, or your typical Spartan foods, which are dotted around downtown,” Pierce said.

My next concern involves parking—I haven’t parallel parked since my driver’s test, and carrying a jar of coins makes my purse extra hefty. Like most major cities, though, you must park at a meter or in a structure—both of which are secure options.

“Safety is not a problem in the greater downtown area,” Pierce said. “In fact, Detroit has one of the safest downtown areas compared to the national average.”

Downtown resident Jake Chidester has called Detroit home for five years, and agrees that the city is a safe place to live.

“I remind people that crime is not evenly distributed throughout the city,” Chidester said. “The central communities of Downtown, Midtown, Corktown, etc., are significantly more (populated) and safe than some of the outlying communities.”

He said that core neighborhoods like Midtown, Corktown and Woodbridge are the areas receiving the most revitalization, and areas like East English Village and Mexicantown are also re-emerging.

“The diversity of opportunities within the city—cultural, leisure, lifestyle—are generally more heterogeneous than those of the surrounding communities,” Chidester said, adding that he’s seen an increase in pedestrian and bicycle traffic over recent years due to the city’s growing population.

Overall, living downtown is a great option—there are plenty of developments to choose from, parking and safety are not an issue, and you’ll instantly be immersed in culture.

“The great thing is, there are many options for people in regards to budget and preferences,” Pierce said. “From downtown loft style living to nearby small neighborhood charm, there is definitely something for everybody.”

To find out more about living in Downtown Detroit, take a look at this article about the services of D: hive.