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Tuesday July 29, 2014
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Moving to Detroit

 

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Sokoly and Kulik like to hang out at the Woodbridge Pub on Trumbull; another ex-Ann Arborite, Jim Geary, opened it in an abandoned liquor store in 2006. Another regular, Alex Pereira, thirty-four, is a U-M grad student in business. Pereira got excited about Detroit in longtime Ann Arbor developer Peter Allen's real estate class, which regularly makes field trips to the city. He's now transforming a "derelict, uninhabitable building" a few blocks from the pub into a five-unit apartment.

Pereira sees possibilities in Detroit that he didn't in Ann Arbor. "The big players in Ann Arbor have already made their names," he says. "As a new developer, you have to go where you can make the greatest impact."

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Traditionally, ambitious young U-M grads have left Ann Arbor for cities like Chicago, San Francisco, or New York. But in the last few years, a small but growing number are going to Detroit. With more than a third of its households living below the poverty line, Detroit is the poorest big city in the county. Its shrinking population, high crime rate, and ruined buildings made it the foremost symbol of American urban decay long before a state-appointed emergency manager--U-M law grad Kevyn Orr--put the city in bankruptcy.

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