Is Detroit in the very (very) early stages of the Soho Effect?
The Soho Effect
n. When the artists who made a neighborhood cool and exciting are forced to move out, because they cannot afford the rents after the area becomes gentrified.
Within the past week I have been hearing a lot of buzz about the up and coming art scene in Detroit. 500 miles away from Detroit, as I sit in the chair at my hair dresser, I over hear a conversation about a couple from Brooklyn moving to Detroit because they were able to get amazing studio space for ridiculously inexpensive rent.
A week prior to my eavesdropping, I came across an extremely interesting article about the DIY mentality overtaking Detroit right now. This article immediately peaked my interest, mainly for two reasons.
1. I am a native Detroiter, so naturally I want to read what The New York Post is saying about my hometown.
2. The title was actually positive “The new Detroit cool.” No, I am not living with my head in the clouds, but it is nice to see positive press every once in a while for the city of Detroit.
Facts are facts. Michigan is undergoing one of the roughest periods in our existence. With the Michigan unemployment rate for the month of May at 13.7% and a foreclosure rate of 1 in every 311 houses, things are looking rather bleek. But I am not here to harp on these sobering statistics. I think we are all well aware of our cities hardships, thanks to TIME Magazine’s, year long Assignment Detroit. Instead I would like to focus on what could be a really positive movement taking place in Detroit right now, the art movement. Could we be on the verge of a gentrification?
The typical steps in an art influenced gentrification go as follows:
First come the hippies, bohemians and hipsters
Typically, hippies, bohemians and hipsters move into poor neighborhoods to take advantage of the low rent on devalued real estate. CHECK, Kevin Krease, my very hipster curious friend who lives in Detroit can vouch that the hipster community has invaded DTown.
Next, comes the ART:
CHECK. Here is a sampling of some of the notable art projects currently taking place in Detroit.
The Heidelberg Project:
Will Copeland is spear heading a new poetry movement in Detroit:
A theatre of experience is being led by Aku Kadoga:
Handmade Detroit is redefining sustainability by building a community around DIY projects.
Then, comes the first round of businesses:
The following local Detroit establishments have become extremely popular by both residents of Detroit and those who reside in the surrounding neighborhoods.
Astro Cafe, Avalon Bread Company, Nancy Whiskey, Rachel’s Place, John K. King, Slows Bar BQ, Le Petit Zinc, Sugar House, Hostel Detroit (and many more).
Lastly, comes the luxury lofts, high end restaurants and retail boutiques.
Is it only a matter of time before real estate prices begin to drive the artists out and we start to see luxury lofts and high end restaurants and boutiques? Some of the most famous examples of The Soho Effect are Soho, NY, Tribecca, NY, East Village, NY, Park Slope, Brooklyn, Williamsburg Brooklyn, Hoboken, New Jersey, Darien Street, Philadelphia, Pioneer Square, Seattle, Bucktown, Chicago, Wicker Park, Chicago, Kings Cross, London.
Will we be next? I guess we will have to wait and see.
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