Monthly Archives: April 2013

M1 Train Train Gonna Take Me Right Out of This Town

I love Dolly Parton (she inspired the title) I once broke out a rousing version of Jolene at Cafe D’Mongo’s while a cute litte folksy chica played it on her little guitar.

Anyway, I saw a little article on Buzzfeed about how we (as America, I guess) shouldn’t discount Detroit in 2013. Loved it! The first and most concrete reason on the list was the M1 Light Rail. Detroit finally enters the world of public transit with the M1 Light Rail project — 3.3 miles of pure transpo between New Center and Downtown.

SUGGESTION: Let’s call it New Center, not New Center Area. Area is a sloppy city suffix. Someone wasn’t trying that hard.

I’m definitely an advocate for the original Light Rail plan (for it to extend into the northern chic ‘burbs), but am more than elated that The D has an established public transportation plan.

But there’s a missing element. All of America’s Glory Cities have beautiful train stations:

Union Station in Chicago, Grand Central Station in NYC


(flickr: dawhitfield, p_a_h)

You know what Detroit’s train station looks like? The one that all the Amtrak trains and the Megabus passes through?


Erm…Do you see an abandoned Taco Bell? I see an abandoned Taco Bell.

Behold your grandiose entrance to Detroit! This station is going stop No. 10 on the new M1 Light Rail line. But is this what you want outsiders to see when they first arrive in Detroit? Or better even worse, is this the depressing sight that you want Detroiters to return to after arriving from Union Station after a weekend in Chicago?

You’re probably thinking, “Back the train up (hehe), what about that other train station in Detroit? That big abandoned one that is a grillion stories high?”


That train station, Michigan Central Station, in fact was Detroit’s answer to Grand Central and Union back in the day. It was pretty sexy back in the day, but it’s defunct now and it’s owner, Matty Moron  Moroun, owns it and refuses to do anything with it. Though my friend Marissa does count every time Matty puts a new window in on her Instagram.

But at this point, I think that train station (Michigan Central Station) should be left as it is. It’s gone from being an eyesore to a tourist attraction (No lie, a friend of mine had a Swiss couch surfer who came to Detroit to see MCS). The Detroit train station is kind of like the first modern-day Colosseum. Throw in some food truck and plant some grass around that puppy and boom! Insta-tourist attraction. (I can see the Instagram photos now). Fact is, the train station is s a ruin, but it’s a big, beautiful ruin. And you know I’m all abouts my BBRs, Okrrr?

But back to the New Center Train Station: While I’m sure the light rail will have lots of little but great stations around dotting Woodward, the Amtrak station needs to be something special. Take advantage of the audience you have captive! For some people, coming in on the Amtrak will be the first introduction to our fair city, and we’ve worked so hard for that impression NOT to be:


There might be a part deux to this one, because I’d like to go into the details of what a makes for a good train station. Peace for nao.


The one thing we can give Detroit a pat on a back for


One of my bosses told me that there are only two holidays that he and his girlfriend celebrate, St. Patrick’s Day and Opening Day. Which to me meant that he pretty much stayed drunk for the entire month of March.

I don’t think most Detroiters take holiday celebration to that extreme, but I must give Detroit a pat on the back for having an extreme sports culture  (despite being so passionately disappointed in our teams) and businesses smartly responding to that.

For example, today is Opening Day in The D  #OpeningDayInTheD (if this isn’t a twitter hashtag by now, save me). My fellow marketing analyst here at DRoots is like, “Everyone I know is pumped for today. I don’t think they are even going to the game. They’re tailgating and hitting up bars.”

Detroit sports bars owners have done the best job of making sure that their bars are the one category of stuff in Detroit I can name run off an entire list off the top of my head: Cheli’s, Hockeytown Cafe, Bookies, Nemos, THE BIGGEST BW3 IN THE NATION WHUUUUT [I know I just called in BW3, not BDubs. My Ohio is showing. I’m sorry], the entire row of nameless/faceless sporty-pubby places in Greektown.

I can even imagine the Ole Shillelagh being open now, because we’re a city of shameless day drinkers on our holidays.

And a lot of these bars are newer developments too — Cheli’s, Hockeytown, Bookies, Buffalo Wild Wings, are all either new or have been redone in the past 10 years or so and don’t seem to be riding the strugglebus with attracting customers.

With that said, if you are going to make an investment in Detroit, do not open a sports bar.

I just shocked the hell out of you right? You may be thinking, “If sports events take the fear out of people and make them flock to Detroit, why would you not open a sports bar? You have just listed tons of successes!”

They are all successes, yes. The market has been saturated! I can give a Detroit business a pat on the back for fully embracing the sports-entertainment market, but there are other things that need to be developed optimize the experience. Given, I’ve never been Downtown on Opening Day, but I was down there for the playoffs last year, so yeah, here, just take it:


  • Parking. Not gonna lie, this is an all around Downtown Detroit problem (and I have some secret Detroit parking strategies that I’ve developed over time), but I’m really surprised no one has jumped on this. There are so many dilapidated buildings take up space– this is one of those moments were it’s ok to “pave paradise and put up a parking lot.”
  • Need Moar Shuttles. I know Nemo’s is a classic and I love to see them toting ’round people. But the smells I smelled from being packed in butt-to-face suggests to me that Nemos and the Peoplemover aren’t enough to handle these crowds.

Given, these are the only two things I can think of off the top, but I’m sure more will come to me. Or someone please contribute because you know what I mean here. What kind of business other than a bar would make your experience better? I’m unna make this short because this wasn’t my best blog entry, but GO TIGS! Welcome back and Happy Opening Day!

Zizu Is Detroit

So I’ve decided to turn this puppy into a Detroit development blog — chock full of ideas to make Detroit awesome. I want DG and Mr. Karmanos and The Ilitichs to look at this be like, “WHOOO YEAH, SLICK IDEAS”.



If you want to see my other posts on Detroit stuff so far, feast your eyes on these gems:

How to Make Detroit’s Layout Really Work
Someone Tell Me Why Detroit Was Passed Up For Social Media Week
Detroit Hustles Harder