Thursday, January 22, 2009

Future apartments?

When I worked in the Detroit area, it was often, that I'd find myself living in an apartment, rather than a single family house. I thought at the time, gee, this is easy living! I didn't have to cut the grass, maintain the building and if something happened to the toilet, I just called! Of course, this was very convenient as I was working for the most part 60+ hours a week, if not more. For me, there just wasn't the time to own a home, have a garden, and the like, I was working that much. Adding in the time it took me to commute back and forth, well...



The history of tenements or apartment buildings in this country date back to 1839 in New York City and by the 1860's tenement squares were popping up all over the place. In more urban areas, apartments close to the downtown area have the benefits of proximity to jobs and/or public transportation. Also, in areas that are limited in space, they can house more people on a plot of land as many are multi leveled. I suppose, Detroit is no New York City, in that respect as there are very few high rise apartment buildings in the neighborhoods, the vast majority being two or three leveled...





In my travels around the inner city neighborhoods, I didn't see any new construction of apartment complexes being built. Again, I'm not saying there were none, just that I didn't come by any... In fact, there was very little new residential construction period of any kind or new commercial or industrial construction, for that matter. That really shouldn't surprise anyone because the city is declining in production/population. Very near the inner downtown area there is a very small area where apartment complexes sprung up over twenty years ago, but besides that, I know of not any... These apartments are nice but not exceeding so and were very expensive when I worked the downtown area, then.


(gee, wish I had recognized that car in the parking lot before my nephew took the picture!!! I very much suspect that this could be drug related, either waiting for a pick-up or drop-off. It's a damn good thing these people didn't likely notice the picture being taken, as if they did, well.... that is how careful one must be in these neighborhoods!)



The population in Detroit has almost halved since 1950. Perhaps, it's not done deflating? Will it likely half again in the next 50 years? I don't know, but we'll take a look at the history of Detroit's demographics to see if there are any clues, as to what may happen. No one knows what tomorrow will bring, however trends do exist and unless something changes are very likely to continue. One thing is certain, these apartment buildings were built during the build up or production years of incline. They were heated with cheap fossil fuels and I'm going to strongly suggest most were not heated with coal, as they are not that old. They were heated with oil.



5 comments:

FARfetched said...

Not much residential development going on anywhere. "They" started something just down the road from FAR Manor nearly two years ago… and about the only thing that has changed since then is that there are vines climbing the sign.

I expect that the commercial developments going on down here, that I wrote about a week ago, won't be followed up by many more… and the ones already built will continue to sit empty until "infiltrated."

I'm not sure *when* I last saw apartments being put up. I'm sure it happens, but not recently & not around here.

yooper said...

You bet, Far. There was one that was added to here, maybe 30 units altogether this year. But you know how rinky dink it is here and only going up because the population is aging... Gee, there are times when I'm even thinking about throwing the towel in and move into one of 'em... ha! Then I wake up...

There was a couple of rules that I set for myself with this project or series. One being, not to discuss race in any matter. Two, only stay within Detroit's city limits. However, even the suburbs for the most part, construction has halted every where... You know something's up when you see ex-vets holding up signs proclaiming they'll work for food on the streets of Ann Arbor.... Very sad.

Nudge said...

Yooper, that whole thing about “will work for food” signs is so wrong .. and so depressing. I remember seeing that sort of thing in Boston in the early 1990s, when I had a series of addresses in some rather unsavory parts of Southie, Dorchester, Cambridge, Jamaica Plain, Somerville, Jamaica Pond, Framingham, etc.

It's hard to guess when we, as communities or as a whole country, come to a full reckoning of exactly what kind of life we can afford to live. When you see things that disappear easily and rapidly (Detroit's 50% population haircut you mentioned above) it is a definite marker that it was a bubble thing dependent on a temporary and unsustainable arrangement.

Normally a returning serviceman or -woman would be accorded some respect for having served the country abroad and endured danger to life & limb. Maybe the way we can tell we're near the “bottom” is when the arrangements start going from worse to better. Right now they're all going from worse to way-worse as the current house-of-cards set of arrangements unwinds / detoxifies / whatever.

I for one do not envy Obama and his team the problems they must solve with the meager tools at their disposal. The more clever folks in Washington realize that an even more fundamental problem than foreclosures, or home re-valuation, or the credit crunch, etc, is the issue of job stability and earned income. Since they can neither prevent foreclosures, not artificially maintain stupidly-inflated house values, or supply enough credit without also tanking the economy in the process, they are already looking at massive job creation. Historically this has always come about through mobilization for war .. so .. who's gonna be the new enemy?

Sorry to digress.

yooper said...

I can't agree more, Nudge. It's especially heartbreaking when we seen this man with the sign, we were taking "Little Louly" over to Petco, so she could pick out some "city bones".... There was a segment on the news down there, where one man was making over $100 a day, panhandling...

Funny you should bring up the house of cards thing. As this is how I described the collapse would be like in, "The Royal Flush in Spades" series.

At the time a friend of mine Kentar, described a slow decline scenario, being like a house that finally collapsed slowly from being gutted out from the inside. But that the roof might be left intact for future use.

I'm in agreement with this concept however, as you've seen it's decay in the roof, windows and doors open, that let the elements in for decay to take hold inside the building. This also happens to a lot of barns up here, until one day when a good wind comes through, the whole structure suddenly comes down, leaving nothing intact...

FARfetched said...

Nudge, the WPA and other public works projects were put in place in the 30s to create jobs & leave something useful behind. A lot of the public infrastructure (parks, bridges, rural electric grids) was built during that time. WW2 came later, and FDR was attempting to avoid direct involvement (although helping out Britain through Lend-Lease, etc.) until Pearl Harbor forced the issue.

Archdruid made a very good point in his current column, though: rhetoric no more heated than today’s … did much to create an atmosphere of collective hatred … to single out one group within society as the source of all its problems. From there, it's one step away from war with some Other. Or worse, a civil war vs. a perceived Enemy Within.

There are attempts at substitutes: Johnson attempted a War on Poverty, with some early successes, then Reagan unconditionally surrendered and started a War on Drugs. A War on Stupidity would be worth fighting, although the stupid would fight like cornered rats.