'The Good Times Killed Us' - Detroit's Collateral Damage

Illustration for article titled The Good Times Killed Us - Detroits Collateral Damage

You hear more stories of Detroit's revitalization every day. Last July, the New York Times Magazine went so far as to call Detroit "post-post-apocalyptic."


And some of the hype is true: dozens of businesses are moving downtown, the city is getting a new 3.2-mile streetcar line, home values are on the rise. But it almost seems like Detroit is following Newton's Third Law: for every action, there's an equal and opposite reaction. For every positive story of Detroit's recovery, there's a negative one following right behind.

In the past few months there have been a slew of stories about black people and black-owned businesses being pushed out of downtown Detroit in favor of richer and whiter people and businesses.


One business, Mo Better Blues, a bistro, told Fox News Detroit that they were being kicked out of their centrally located business because they were black.

"I think it's racist," the owner said. "We feel like they don't want blacks downtown."


Mo Better's woes followed news that three businesses were being kicked out of the historic Himelhoch building. The owners surmised that with the planned street car slated to open in a few years, and with more people moving downtown, the landlords realized they could charge much more than $2,500 a month for the space.


"You could easily get $50,000 a month to rent that space right now, probably more," Scott Griffin, a property manager, told The Detroit News.

Larry and Dianne Mongo had run a variety of shops on the ground floor of that building for 30 years.


"It's not the bad times that killed us," Larry Mongo told the paper. "It's the good times."

The evictions of small business owners come a year after over 100 residents of a building for low-income seniors were evicted so the building could be rechristened "The Albert" and turned into luxury apartments.


"I was born and raised in Detroit," Recardo Berrien, a 58-year-old former resident of the building told Deadline Detroit. "For us not to be part of this 'new Detroit' is absurd. We don't see 'us' in none of this. No elderly and poor. We are nowhere in the plans of anyone down here."

[Image of Woodward Ave., where Detroit's streetcar will eventually run, via Wikipedia]

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