Big promises for a thriving urban core in Detroit vanish in a swath of parking lots

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The city’s billionaire Ilitch family made ambitious promises in 2013, but now the area remains a redevelopment deadzone

Along the streets leading to Detroit’s recently minted Little Caesars Arena, colorful banners hang from temporary fencing, informing visitors they’ve arrived in The District Detroit. The neighborhood holds “a dynamic mix of shopping and dining” with “places to live in the heart of the action”, the signage reads. The banners depict a thriving urban core with smiling families holding hands while well-dressed people drink under patio lights.

Beyond the fencing, the landscape isn’t quite so lively. There are few places to live in The District, and little to eat. Vacant, decaying buildings make up entire city blocks. There are almost no lights, save for those illuminating surface lots and parking garages.

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