Weather warnings, power outages and a Beyoncé swarm downtown — it’s just another wild summer week in Detroit, so we’ll keep things mild and manageable. Get up to speed on the latest Ilitch demolition debacle, plans for more residential parking permits, the legal landscape for LGBTQ+ couples and parents, a possible new name for Hart Plaza and more.
We also rounded up some stories and happenings to delight you: a serene video essay from a fave writer; community stories from Dearborn; art lit up in neon and salvaged from chopped-down trees; feasts featuring Little Liberia, Baobab Fare and the sounds of Slum Village; puppet theater and the return of the Sidewalk Festival. Finally, if you’re curious how developers without deep pockets get their projects built, here’s one look behind the scenes — loans and all — in our feature about two developers rehabbing Boston Edison apartment complexes.
Stay cool out there! <3 Team Detour
Detroit in Five
Demolition whiplash: A building on Cass Avenue in Detroit’s former Chinatown neighborhood is probably, definitely, maybe going to be demolished despite councilmembers’ efforts to hold off the wrecking ball. Dating to 1883 and once home to the Chinese Merchants Association, the building has been owned by entities connected to the Ilitches’ Olympia Development of Michigan since 2004. It has been severely neglected. The city marked it for demolition back in 2018 but more recently declared the building a hazard and issued a demolition citation. Last week, Councilmember Gabriela Santiago-Romero made the initial request to delay demolition (paywalled), and City Council voted on Tuesday to pause for a month to look into the preservation potential and historical significance of the building. But the Law Department seems to have pressed play, writing that the vote “does not have any legal impact on the demolition process.” Olympia said it will “comply with the city.” The company’s track record has been pretty… mixed… on both demolition and preservation, so we’ll wait to see the rubble. (Detroit Free Press, Axios Detroit, Crain’s Detroit Business, Detroit News, Curbed Detroit, BridgeDetroit)
➡️ Dig deeper: Need a refresher on Chinatown history? Revisit the story in full color in this short documentary segment, dive deep with a historical profile, explore a map of the area or check in with Detroit’s Asian American community today. (Detroit Public TV, Metro Times, Detroitography, Detroit News)
Family ties: The Michigan Supreme Court ruled Monday that unmarried LGBTQ+ couples can now seek parental custody of children if they broke up before same-sex marriage was legalized in 2015. The decision came after a woman filed a lawsuit for custody of a son her ex-partner gave birth to while they were in a relationship in 2008. Later on, the biological mother did not allow her ex-partner to have a relationship with her son. And as anxieties swirl about whether the U.S. Supreme Court could claw back marriage equality, state Rep. Jason Morgan (D-Ann Arbor) is proposing an amendment to repeal Michigan’s preexisting ban on same-sex marriage. Getting the required two-thirds majority to change the state constitution will be a hard fight, but Morgan and fellow Dems may have more luck with a 52-bill package introduced last month that would revise outdated gendered language across state laws. (Bridge Michigan, Michigan Supreme Court, Pride Source, Poynter, Michigan Advance)
This space reserved: Residential parking zones are popping up along the Woodward corridor, with one already approved and active near Little Caesars Arena, and new ones proposed in Brush Park and around Selden Street and Second Avenue. The zones allow for free and overnight parking for residents with a permit in areas that are otherwise metered or limited for non-residents. City Council approved the residential parking permit program in 2019 to maintain quality of life for residents who live in increasingly popular, trafficked areas. (BridgeDetroit, City of Detroit)
Lost to the flood: “So much of what’s important about Detroit is the Blackness of it.” dream hampton, a filmmaker known for the documentary series “Surviving R. Kelly,” offers a meditative love letter to her birthplace in the wake of the 2021 floods. In 10 minutes, her film “Freshwater” eddies from Black Bottom to Belle Isle and into Detroit’s foggy, climate-altered future. (New York Times)
Angel of mine: Fan vids are making the rounds after R&B icon Monica jumped offstage at the Riverfront Music Festival this weekend and intervened when she allegedly saw a man physically assault a woman. “I did what I hope someone would do if they saw that happening to my aunt or mother,” she told CNN. In other heroic news, crews on the J.W. Westcott, which normally cruises around delivering mail to ships for the U.S. Postal Service — have, just this month, rescued both a fisherman and a construction worker who fell in the river. (Fox 2 Detroit, CNN, WXYZ)
Self-driving but chaperoned: In a novel public transportation pitch (that doesn’t include more frequent buses), the city will pilot self-driving shuttles next year to get seniors and people with disabilities where they need to go. The money is coming from a $2.5 million federal grant. There’s plenty of anticipation that this will help move the city into the future (finally, something to use in that self-driving lane of I-94?!) but in the near term, the program would only serve about 100 people in two neighborhoods and all the vehicles would have someone in the driver’s seat. (BridgeDetroit, MLive)
Best of the rest:
- Councilmember Mary Waters wants to rename Hart Plaza to Martin Luther King Jr. Plaza…
- Rising rents forcing seniors, lower-income residents out of downtown…
- Amid supply chain delays (paywalled), GM reverses plans to scrap the Bolt, its most affordable electric vehicle…
- MOCAD slated to close for six months or more starting in late 2024 for $10 million renovation project including outdoor stage and plaza (paywalled)…
- Tesla fan Jack White auctioning off his 2013 Model S after criticizing Elon Musk; some proceeds will go to Clark Park Coalition…
(Detroit News, Metro Times, Freep, Reuters, Crain’s)
Culture & Community
💡 Patrick Ethen’s five-story neon light installation “Sunset Streaker” now glows on the south side of the Bagley Mobility Hub…
🧵 Dearborn’s Sew Modest Studio provides women and girls with sewing community, new skills…
📖 Detroit author Denise Crittendon empowers Black women, reimagines beauty standards in new novel…
💨 Hookah lounges as “sacred” community spaces for young Arab Americans in Dearborn…
🌳 Charles H. Wright Museum of African American History, Center for Creative Studies partner to repurpose urban trees in “d.Tree” exhibit…
🍂 Theatre Bizarre’s legendary Halloween shows canceled for 2023…
(Patrick Ethen on Instagram, Hour Detroit, WDET, NYT, Planet Detroit, Freep, Metro Times)
💃 Move creatively and collaboratively with some help from performance group The Hinterlands, which hosts its recurring open training session tonight at the Play House in Banglatown. No experience required, 18+, $15-$35 sliding scale.
📽️ Explore the plight of Arab American immigrants in “Prayer of the Wanderer,” a program of eight short films. Films are available to stream now through Sunday. Free.
💡 Join Michigan Liberation, American Friends Service Committee and Detroit Justice Center at MOCAD tonight for a panel discussion on strategies for advancing abolition. Free; museum suggests a $10 donation.
📸 Soak in the magic of childhood through Elonte Davis’ “This Is Where I’m at and This Is What I’m Doing,” a photo and video exhibition that offers a candid glimpse into the lives and joys of Detroit children. It debuts Friday night at the Carr Center Gallery in Midtown. Free.
🎶 Let the music — and just the music — consume you on Friday at a Detroit and A2 Ecstatic Dance conscious clubbing night at Andy Arts. The night begins and ends with a discussion circle, and there are no drinks in sight. $10-$20 based on financial ability.
🪅 Celebrate unique spaces at Sidewalk Festival 2023 in East Canfield Village on Saturday, where the communal block party atmosphere sets the stage for performances and art installations from some of the most creative folks in town. Free.
🎭 Join puppets Rose, Jenny and Ricky on Saturday as they help their mom set up a rent party in 1920s Harlem in this performance from Drama of Works’ toy puppet theater at the Detroit Institute of Arts. Free with registration.
🍽️ On Saturday at Spot Lite, chefs Amber Beckem and Jermond Booze curate a “Vinyl Tasting” dinner to pair with the Slum Village album “Fantastic, Vol. 2.” “Get Dis Money” and braised oxtail pappardelle, yes please. $75 or $95 with wine pairing.
🍲 Dig in for a cause at Frame in Hazel Park on Saturday, where Baobab Fare’s Hamissi Mamba will cook up a feast to fundraise for Freedom House. Tickets are $150.
🍛 Whether you love to load on the pepper sauce or have yet to try Little Liberia’s food, you’ll want to taste the mouth-watering menu at their Sunday pop-up at Brewery Faison on the east side. Free to attend.
🏢 Check out the grand opening of Bedrock’s Book Tower downtown on Wednesday with an artisan market, free food trucks and live performances from DJ Sky Jetta, the Detroit Youth Choir and Miguel. Free.
Written by Aaron, Koby, Lynelle, Malak, Miriam, Noah, SaMya, Sarah and Kate, who’s all for going meatless but draws the line at a tofu bologna festival.
“Everything he touches turns into a parking lot.”