Survey Says: Downtown Detroit Has Potential, Perception Improved

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The results of the Downtown Detroit Partnership’s 2014 Downtown Detroit Perceptions Survey are in, and they reflect the growth and changes that Downtown Detroit has experienced.

The survey was taken by 4,685 people and focused on seven key areas: safety, cleanliness, parking, walkability and biking, transit, and living Downtown. The DDP will be conducting this survey annually they plan it to serve as a benchmark.

“We had broad and diverse participation, four times more people took the survey than we expected, and it’s wonderful to see that people are excited and optimistic about Detroit’s future,” said Eric Larson, CEO of the Downtown Detroit Partnership. “The DDP is using this information to inform our activities, promote the positive stories and to address opportunities for improvement.”

The survey was conducted by LaVERDAD Research, an independent and nationally recognized firm headquartered in Cincinnati, Ohio.


96% of Detroiters believe that Downtown has lots of potential, and 91% agree that Downtown improves every year.
Of the residents in the Detroit Metropolitan Statistical Area, 81% have an overall positive impression of Downtown Detroit.

77% of respondents said their opinion of Detroit had either significantly improved or had somewhat improved since 2013.


It seems that Detroit residents feel pretty safe on the street, at least during the day. 91% of Detroiters think Downtown is safe during the day. Opinions about nighttime safety differed between Downtown residents and the City of Detroit residents.

Of the respondents who live outside Downtown Detroit, 49% say that police are present at night, and 53% think Downtown is safe at night. However, 63% of Downtown residents believe that police are present at night, and 75% think Downtown is safe at night.


72% of respondents think that Downtown storefronts are clean, and 57% said the streets are attractively landscaped. Opinions about lighting brought up the rear: 54% believe that the Downtown streets are well lit.


Respondents’ views on parking leave Downtown some room for improvement. 60% of Detroiters think the Downtown parking structures are safe, but only 28% feel the same about on-street parking. Additionally, 56% of respondents believe that off-street parking options like parking lots or garages are easy to find.

Walking and Biking

If you enjoy taking a stroll around Downtown Detroit, you’re in good company. 70% of people surveyed think that Downtown is walkable. However, the same feelings didn’t extend to biking around Downtown. 58% agreed that Downtown was bike friendly, and only 12% said they could find safe, convenient places to park their bike.


Overall, 34% of people surveyed think Downtown transit is safe. According to respondents, the People Mover is a good option for Downtown travel. 56% believe it’s a convenient, safe option for getting around Downtown. Bus service didn’t fare so well. Only 11% think it’s easy to find information about busses.

Factors That Affected Opinions

Millennials between the ages of 18 and 34 are the most likely group to view Downtown Detroit favorably. 93% of Millennials have a positive opinion of Downtown. Of the group between the ages of 60 and 64, 68% had a positive opinion of Detroit, making it the lowest ranking group of respondents.

The survey found that Downtown Detroit residents had a more favorable opinion of the city, followed by residents of the City of Detroit. Nor surprisingly, non Detroit residents had the least favorable outlook.

What Detroiters Love About Their City

Here are some select quotes from the survey:

I love the feeling of being a part of something bigger than myself. Everyone needs to work together in order for Detroit to get back on its feet and I’m proud to be a Downtown/Midtown resident and Downtown employee to play my role in the renaissance.

Although there are more abandoned building than when I came Downtown 37 years ago, there is far more promise than ever. Improved signage, beautiful parks, outside dining, new buildings, refurbished buildings, sports and entertainment centers, people moving into townhouses, apartments and lofts signify a city with a brighter future and an encouraging present.

Perhaps this respondent said it best:

Seeing the city come back from years of neglect and all the positive things being said about Detroit all over the world. I am proud to be a Detroiter.

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