Greektown, once the only place to go downtown, is now the last place to go downtown.
As other parts of the central business district have flowered, Greektown has slid toward Bourbon Street status -- its original charm long-gone, now replaced with chain (or tired) restaurants, while social media often feature shaky videos of closing-time street fights.
John Gallagher reports in the Freep on a new and valiant attempt to restore the charm and energy to one of Detroit's oldest neighborhoods, and the one that kept the flame burning downtown when everyone else had left.
On Wednesday, a newly minted Greektown Neighborhood Partnership will unveil a 256-page Framework Vision for redevelopment. The plan offers a road map to revival for a neighborhood that, despite its problems, still ranks as one of the city’s oldest and proudest.
The wide-ranging Framework Vision suggests a host of strategies. Among those:
New residential development could rise on what is now surface parking lots, much as it has elsewhere in the greater downtown.
Surface lots could also be converted to pocket parks and other public spaces. The plan also envisions turning neglected alleys behind buildings into alley walks with murals, new lighting and other attractions.
The plan envisions everything from higher-grade paving materials to new signage and light to visually tie together the district. Traffic on Monroe could be restricted to a single one-way lane to allow for wider sidewalks for outdoor cafes.
Of course, Detroit has abounded in plans and visions and to-do lists over the years. And the one to spruce up Greektown will take years to implement. But with a new grocery/bakery/cafe in the works, one with the backing of the Dionisopoulos family, who own two of the remaining Greek restaurants, it could be further along than others that have died on the vine.