Detroit Has A Too-Expensive Downtown, Is Like Other City Downtowns

Like carjackings in Corktown and police presence on Belle Isle, you know things aren't an issue in Detroit until white people start to complain about it. (Sorry, but yeah.) Today's hand-wringing is the rising rents in downtown Detroit.

The Detroit Free Press explored this issue a few months ago saying that downtown was becoming too expensive for the middle-class, underlining a few cases where longtime residents moved out when landlords jacked up the rent. (I strongly disagreed with that headline and the general undercurrent of the story, because the rental rates in one or two Detroit neighborhoods when the city has 132 more square miles to offer is definitely not the biggest problem facing the middle class in this city.)

The "g-word" isn't quite applicable, since the people moving out have means to move elsewhere. Also, this happens in every other city in the world — congrats, Detroit! We've finally caught up. But now the downtown-rents phenomenon is CNN official, with the outlet poring a bit further into what's going on:

Five-year resident, Andrew Kopietz moved out of his one-bedroom in the downtown Lafayette Park neighborhood late last year after his rent was hiked to $1,100 from $840 a month. "I work downtown and have never loved living somewhere as much as I do here," said Kopietz, a design director for D:Hive, which provides information about living in Detroit. But, "it seemed unfair to be forced to pay more."

Karl Wolf, 37, works as an assistant manager for Quicken and lives in Wyandotte, a small city 10 miles southwest of Detroit. He is eligible for the $20,000 forgivable loan and has been condo hunting for a couple of years, but he still can't seem to find a place he can afford. "Apartments are prohibitively expensive, especially those that have been renovated, but even the shabbier ones are very pricey," he said.

I'm sure there are New Yorkers that'd kill for an $1,100-a-month one-bedroom; the average one-bedroom in NYC is in the $2,600-a-month range. Let's not be too hasty to complain, now.

It's simple supply and demand: Everyone wants to live downtown, and there's just not enough room for downtown. So what lesson should we learn here? For one, I've said over and over that it's worth checking out the other neighborhoods and seeing what it's like to own a house. I know it might kill some people to not be in walking distance of the new Buffalo Wild Wings, but that's just the way it is.

Can't buy a house? Rent. People on my street rent three-bedroom houses with yards in the $700-a-month range. Talk to people. Contact real-estate agents. Google landlords. There's a world outside Craigslist.

That's not to say that residents should shoulder the entire battle of finding a suitable place to live. Perhaps this is the clarion call for the developer elite to start putting coffeehouses and whatnot outside the 7.2. Demolitions and land auctions have been sped up — apparently. So what's the next piece of the puzzle to fall in place?