Downtown Detroit continues to go through exciting changes and more prominent events, like hosting the 2024 NFL Draft and the Detroit Grand Prix, thanks to initiatives and organizations like the Downtown Detroit Partnership (DDP). Chief Executive Officer of DDP, Eric B. Larson, detailed more about downtown Detroit’s progress and more during his keynote address at the 2023 Detroit Policy Conference.
Downtown Detroit Today: “The Region’s Most Dynamic and Vibrant Urban Center”
Kicking off his keynote, Larson said he and the DDP team “actively focused” on where the city is right now and making it “your home,” as it has been for a century. He bragged that the old definition has been gone for a “few decades” now.
“Downtown Detroit today is known globally for unparalleled design, architecture, shopping, eating, parks, music, art, and more,” he said, adding it’s a “backdrop” for diverse working and playing.
Downtown Population Increased Over a Decade, Continues to Trend Upward
Larson then shared data collected by the DDP, called the Downtown Detroit Datascape, a publicly accessible curated collection of data and interactive tools to help make informed decisions and drive investment through the urban core of the city of Detroit.
According to this data, the total downtown population increased by 37% between 2010 and 2020, with the trend continuing—one of the many impressive data points presented, especially since this population has a near-Black majority.
“We are an extremely diverse downtown. Downtown Detroit is the most representative and diverse community and neighborhood we have in the city and in the region, quite frankly,” he said. “We’re attracting, inviting, and appealing to a diverse set of individuals.”
Visiting Levels, Affordable Housing Value at Pre-Pandemic Levels, Big Increase in Detroit Resident Visits
Larson then showcased downtown Detroit “visitorship” by total annual visits and average Saturday visits by year, which he said is “stronger than it’s ever been” since before the pandemic. Other positive data upticks include Detroit residents’ visiting rate to downtown and effective residential market rent per square foot.
“During the pandemic, we saw the huge uptick of Detroit resident population really understanding and recognizing that our downtown is their downtown,” he said. “What we do is for them and only created through the ability of them.”
Average Daily Worker Rate is Higher, But No Need to Reach 100%
One of the final points Larson touched on was the future of work and how it relates to downtown activity. According to the Datascape, the downtown Detroit average daily number of workers on weekdays is trailing around 25,000 – the highest it has been since the beginning of the pandemic, which was about 80,000 workers in the core of downtown.
“We will make up some ground in 2023, but the reality is we will never get back that 100% in the office, five days a week. And quite frankly, I don’t think we really need to,” he admitted. “What I think we need [is] to continue to attract new office opportunities and continue creating a resilient environment.”