A year later, what cities can learn from Detroit’s bankruptcy

Source: Bruce Katz, Jennifer Bradley, Fortune, July 22, 2014

Detroit’s recovery shows that cities are networks, not just governments….The city government, for example, gave up control of the neglected (but promising) urban park, Belle Isle, turning it over to state management under a 30-year lease. Through a $185 million bond package, the Detroit Public Lighting Authority is tackling one of the most iconic symbols of the city’s troubles, replacing 55,000 broken streetlights with state-of-the-art LED bulbs. … As Detroit’s government was struggling with fiscal challenges (and the struggles started long before the bankruptcy filing), civic, business and philanthropic actors were committing billions of dollars into downtown and midtown and supporting a smart plan for the city’s physical and economic future. The M1 rail line, which is expected to begin construction later this month, is emblematic of Detroit’s physical and economic transformation. The bulk of the funding is coming not from the federal, state or local governments, but rather a consortium of companies, philanthropies and other anchor institutions. … When it looked like the DIA’s collection would be dismantled to pay the city’s bills, the DIA itself, philanthropies, businesses, and the state of Michigan created what’s termed the “grand bargain” to shore up the city’s pension fund and thereby save the art. …