You want to make money, but you don't want to spend too much. You may have heard that Detroit is ripe for investment, but you're not quite sure how to go about it. Let me be your guide with these super-easy ideas.
None of these things are the things Detroit absolutely needs or will be a silver bullet. Save your Facebook rant or r/Detroit post for another time. These are just things that would be nice to have in a city that seems to obsessed with the usual. I mean, really — do we need another hand-craft distillery?
1. An indoor go-kart track. When the Jalopnik staff came to Detroit last January for the auto show, where was the first place we met for an introduction to Detroit? Kart 2 Kart in Sterling Heights. Now don't get me wrong — Kart 2 Kart is a fine establishment, and it's not a city vs. suburbs thing. We just need more places like Kart 2 Kart, and it should be fairly easy to convert one of the hundreds of vacant commercial buildings into such a place.
2. A coffeeshop/library with absolute silence. You can't go to the Starbucks on Mack and Woodward without having to be privy to a wannabe mogul's phone conversations. You can't go to Astro without sharing table space with a visiting West Bloomfield mom pumping her 6-year-old full of espresso. Sometimes you want to have a glass of wine at Great Lakes but you can't because you can't find a seat, you have to make awkward conversation with someone you haven't seen in a year and there's probably a DJ there on the one night you decide to go there (while getting lucky with a parking space). How about somewhere where I can just read and drink coffee in peace and maybe encourage literacy in the process?
3. Really, any kind of coffeeshop outside the 7.2. No, the Tim Hortons on Wyoming doesn't count. Just a decent place with secure parking, free wi-fi and clean floors. Somewhere where the playlist isn't the court-mandated playlist of today's indie and yesterday's Motown. Somewhere where the menu isn't all farmer's arugula and tillamook on toasted focaccia — I just want a fucking bearclaw and to pay less than $3 for it.
4. A gay bar inside a firehouse. Why isn't this a thing? All the empty firehouses around town and nobody has tried to repurpose one for this specific reason? Anderson Cooper did it.
5. A multicultural children's bookstore. With Apple Book Center on Outer Drive closed and the Shrine of the Black Madonna on the endangered list, there have been fewer places in the city to find kids' books by both indie and national authors. Fortunately there are a few places opening geared toward adults. But won't someone please think of the children? Again, considering that now is a great time to promote literacy in the city (and maybe lay down some of those pesky racial barriers as well?), this seems like a no-brainer.
6. A vegan coney island. If Hatch Detroit has taught us anything, it's that 1. It's easy to forget a little thing like a top staff member resigning from the company amidst investigations of finances as long as that company is helping young white people open businesses downtown and 2. Detroiters really fucking love artisan food places. I would suggest a vegetarian coney island, but why not just go all out?
7. An agency that teaches new Detroiters not to be offensive. Like D:Hive, but instead of frilly tours, something that shows people how to interact with racial minorities without being condescending assholes. Lesson One: How to Write a Huffington Post Detroit Guest Column and Not Sound Like a Douche.
8. A motorcycle dealer. Alright, so Slow Roll is nice and all. I even said as much. It's not the only two wheels people in the city ride, though. I don't know if it's just me, but I've noticed an uptick in people riding not just motorcycles, but ATVs and Dune Buggys through the streets. Maybe one day we'll read about this trend if at least one daily ever gets over its fear of sending white reporters to the city's black neighborhoods — or so I've heard. But with all this activity and all these motorcycle clubs popping up lately? Surely someone can capitalize on this with a proper dealer in the city limits. [UPDATE: Shout-out to Detroit Moped Works, which just opened, and Motown Custom Cycles, which is two blocks over. Thanks for the heads-up, Alexander!]
9. Another watch company. And I mean just a watch company, nothing more. Shinola has showed us people love watches and locally made products. The entrepreneur who wants to make watches with smaller overhead by not offering a full range of luxury goods has room in this marketplace.
10. A full-service, non-denominational wedding chapel. So you mean to tell me with allllllll of the vacant churches in the city, no one has thought to snap one of these up and farm out all of the services of a wedding (space rental, food, photography, officiators) to the dozens of freelancers around town?
11. An app like Yelp that rates coney islands, fish-fry places and other places you won't read about in local media. No knock to the sorority of local food writers — Sylvia Rector, Molly Abraham, and whatever 20-something young woman that will inevitably take the helm at Eater Detroit — but maybe instead of getting all excited because they painted a door this week at Gold Cash Gold, I'd like to know how the chili cheese fries at A. Eagle's on Dexter stack up to the ones at Sherwood. The app developer who does this gets all the downloads.
12. A Mexican restaurant outside Southwest Detroit. As an African-American who loves tacos, I can attest that other African-Americans indeed love tacos. Or maybe a sit-down Chinese place, at least?
13. A senior apartment building, anywhere. So here in my ZIP code, 48206, there are tons of buildings that look like this waiting for rehab. Skipping the "is it gentrification?" debate for another day, I think we can agree that Detroit's displaced seniors need a place to go, right? A bundle of grants and some private investment can get one of these buildings up and running in short time.