Gilbert, who anticipated a bankruptcy filing, said that, "It's a step toward a better and brighter tomorrow." The businessman has a
of transforming the nearly deserted city into an economic powerhouse once again. By snatching up land, some as cheap as $5 per square foot, he's quickly accumulating multiple buildings along the flagship strip known as Woodward Avenue, near the Detroit River.
One of his multiple plans is to attract small startup firms and tech companies. By subsidizing part of the expenses associated with living and working downtown, more and more companies are starting to work their way into the area. Companies like
have space there and the thought is this move will only continue to grow.
By subsidizing part of the expenses through Bedrock, a company owned by Gilbert, more and more startups and technology companies are willing to give it a chance. If it weren't for the incentives, those employees would have likely never wander down there on their own.
The city is cooperating with Gilbert's effort. By allowing them to have a fairly "free hand," the team can move as quickly and efficiently as possible. Permit hang ups for purchases and renovations are expedited so that literally, Gilbert's image can hopefully become a reality as soon as possible.
His plan will be hard to materialize. Retailers aren't going to move in without foot traffic and pedestrians won't have a reason to walk the streets without shops. Thankfully, he has the tailwinds of the Detroit Tigers, the rejuvenated Detroit Lions and the Detroit Red Wings -- who have made more than two decades of consecutive playoff appearances -- to help retain some sort of downtown foot traffic and jubilant spirits.
Hopefully Gilbert is right and can transform the city into what it once was: Beautiful, fun and exciting. With the industrial presence waning, hopefully bankruptcy marks the bottom in the city's long, painful downward spiral. Although it may never return to its once-prosperous state, its residents wouldn't mind a "normal" city one bit.
Here's to Detroit piecing together another strong first-half century.
-- Written by Bret Kenwell in Petoskey, Mich.
At the time of publication the author had no position in any of the stocks mentioned.
This article is commentary by an independent contributor, separate from TheStreet's regular news coverage.