COVID-19: The Recovery will Happen in Public Space

Detroiters Agree: The Future of Downtown is Bright

Mar 23, 2015
Dec 14, 2017
Campus Martius Park in downtown Detroit, a Heart of the Community project with Southwest Airlines and PPS, was listed as one of the top destinations in a recent survey | Photo by PPS

Beginning in 1999 with the revamping of the historic Eastern Market, through our work in Campus Martius Park, Cadillac Square, and the Detroit Riverfront, PPS has been honored to work with Detroit leaders and community members in the place-led regeneration of this spirited city.

Following some major changes that have taken place downtown and in various neighborhoods throughout Detroit over the last several years—and in the wake of the devastating tolls the 2008 recession exacted on this city in particular —a recent survey conducted by the Greater Downtown Partnership has uncovered some very encouraging results! Aiming to gauge the community’s overall impressions of Downtown Detroit, this robust survey of nearly 5,000 respondents shows that public opinions have markedly improved over the past year.

As many of us know well, the cross-cutting impacts of Placemaking projects can be notoriously difficult to measure or quantify. Coming up with effective metrics is an important and ongoing challenge—one that is constantly being tested and refined. This makes the news coming out of this survey even more exciting!

Here are the “bottom lines” of the report:

  • A strong majority of residents (81%) have an overall positive impression of Downtown Detroit.
  • When asked how their opinion of Downtown Detroit has changed compared to a year ago, 77% of respondents said their opinion was either significantly more favorable or somewhat more favorable than a year ago.
  • Looking forward, an almost unanimous 96% agree that Downtown Detroit has lots of potential, and 91% agreed that Downtown is improving every year. Three out of ten people said they visited Downtown for non-work related activities more than 20 times during the last 12 months.
  • The top three activities people do while visiting Downtown are dining out, sporting events, and visiting bars and clubs. The top three destinations are Campus Martius Park, Comerica Park, and Detroit RiverWalk.

The CEO of the Greater Downtown Partnership, Eric Larson, commented on the survey results in the Detroit Free Press: "I think that we've done a very good job of not only activating some of the incredibly exciting public spaces, but we still have core activities within the city that need our attention," he remarked. “Those include continuing to be very focused and deliberate about transit, and very, very forceful around the safety and security concerns."

As Larson acknowledges, there is still much work to do towards achieving Destination Excellence, as the report is titled, but the fact that Detroiters are continuing to bring new life into to the city’s public spaces is great news indeed!

See the full survey results here and at Also take a look at the recently released Walk Score rankings of U.S. cities with huge increases for Detroit over last year.

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