Amid all of the anguish over the bankruptcy of Detroit, Richard Florida offers one of the few hopeful analyses: "Detroit's downtown urban core is seeing more investment, economic activity and an influx of talent than it has in decades. This revitalization is concentrated and spotty and it is far from inclusive, but it is certainly something positive, generating jobs, revenue and much-needed hope and optimism that provide a foundation to build upon." White flight and sprawl were contributors to Detroit's downfall, Florida emphasizes. The decline of the automobile industry has left the region reeling, but metropolitan Detroit has assets. It is home to more than 5 million people with an economic output of nearly $200 billion, larger than New Zealand's. More than a third of the region's workers are what he terms "creative class," a larger percentage than the US as a whole. The Greater Downtown Corridor, a 7.2 square mile area that extends north from the city center, will benefit greatly from the construction of a planned light rail system that is funded from public and private sources. "Bankruptcy is likely to have little, if any, effect on this flow of investment capital back to the core," Florida says.
The Suburban Experiment creates an illusion of wealth early on. As the city enters the second life cycle and the dispersed systems that came with the growth now need costly maintenance, the seductive illusion is slowly destroyed.
One would think that Wall Street would be all over the "walkable urban" trend; that the Ivy League-educated investment bankers would have figured out a hundred ways to get rich from walkable places, but that mostly hasn't happened.
The fiscal case for smart growth is gaining steam. New Urban News (now Better! Cities & Towns) reported on a groundbreaking study in Sarasota, Florida, in September of 2010 that showed enormous advantages in per-acre tax yields for mixed-use, downtown properties.