INTRO: Governor Rick Snyder’s new community revitalization program has started this week. It’s for developers who fix up contaminated, obsolete and historic downtown properties. They’ll have to figure out a new set of rules. And they’ll be competing for $100 million instead of the $500 million a year that used to be available. Michigan Now’s Chris McCarus reports on the governor’s record on Detroit so far.
Real estate developers and non-profit groups had been revitalizing abandoned factories, warehouses and buildings under the tax credit programs created by former Republican Governor John Engler. They were angry when Governor Snyder ended the programs last year. Andy Schor works for the Michigan Municipal League. He lobbied Snyder to restore the money for cities.
“He does say that he’s a believer in the city of Detroit and Detroit being great causing Michigan to be great. I do believe that. It needs to translate into policy. But I do believe that. And he’s a believer in all this stuff we have been talking about: the transit, the walkability.”
The MML and its mayors and city managers have met with Rick Snyder several times. Though Andy Schor is not taking credit for pushing Snyder toward an urban agenda.
“I don’t know that we’ve pushed him or we’ve been able to allow him to say what he’s wanted to say.”
Snyder did write a letter to Troy’s Tea Party mayor, asking her not to scrap the Troy Transit Center before Christmas. But he let mayor Bing scrap Woodward Light Rail. Snyder let his emergency financial managers spend $3 million to tear down historic Cass Tech High School. And the tax credit program Snyder scrapped was the death knell for the ABC TV show Detroit 1-8-7. This was the theme song.
“That’s the perfect ad campaign.”
Ponsella Hardaway is director of the advocacy group called MOSES.
“Yeah Detroit 1-8-7 it was exciting to see the beauty of Detroit in the background and it boosted people’s self-esteem that we are on the map. We are not hidden.”
In its brief season it got kids from Tacoma, Topeka and Washington D.C. to romanticize Detroit just as generations here have romanticized and then moved to New York and L.A. Governor Snyder has shrunk the pot of tax credits for movies. It had no cap. Now it’s $25 million. Here’s Ponsella Hardaway again.
“Cutting the movie film credits was a mistake. It was drawing people in. When I go to New York I see people standing in front of the New York police cars taking pictures.”
The Detroit police drama could have been a waste of $15 million or a priceless national PR campaign. We may never know. The show, the train and the school are gone under this pro-city governor.