Plan to shrink Detroit gets boost from foundation

A plan by Detroit Mayor Dave Bing to concentrate services and resources into compact urban centers and allow other parts of the city to depopulate has been on hold for more than two years, but the idea got a shot in the arm from a $150 million Kresge Foundation gift. Kresge, based in Troy, Michigan, made the gift specifically to get the plan moving again. It includes $120 million in new funding beyond previously announced programs. The money will be distributed over five years. The foundation has invested more than $100 million in Detroit in the past decade to fund a new trolley line, build a riverfront promenade, and construct greenways, the Wall Street Journal reports. Detroit lost a quarter of its population in the last decade alone, and is now stands at around 700,000 people — down 62 percent from its peak in 1950. The city can no longer afford to maintain services over its 139 square miles, Bing says. Never a very densely populated city, many neighborhoods are now virtual ghost towns. Nevertheless, the city enjoys tremendous historic and cultural assets. The Detroit Future City plan calls for focusing growth in seven to nine population centers. "It is a fundamental belief on our part that every dollar we spend simply has to reinforce the spirit, the letter and the intent of this plan," said Rip Rapson, CEO of the Kresge Foundation, told reporters.

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