Reconnecting America People * Places * Possibility

The Windy City vs Motor City: Monday Night Complete Communities Matchup


It’s a can’t miss divisional matchup between these two monsters of the Midwest. The Detroit Lions take on the Chicago Bears, each looking to put a critical win in the books. But how do the two places compare when it comes to building complete communities? As we saw a couple of weeks back, Chicago isn’t a high achiever, but they make a decent “B” across the board, due to the combination of the region’s extensive transit network and compact growth patterns.

Detroit’s three “C’s” and a “D” indicate while not in the bottom of the bin, there is a need for more work to be done. The region’s fixed-guideway network consists of a people mover in the downtown today, and though a high share of households in the region (17%) do live in opportunity areas, there are many places doing better than that, including some small towns without NFL teams, such as Missoula, MT, and Reading, PA. The Detroit region does even worse when it comes to concentrating jobs in opportunity areas, which is also reflected in the relatively low employment density of the region. Sprawling jobs are harder to serve with transit, meaning that more people will need a car to access those opportunities.

However, there are many people working hard to move Detroit’s grades to the next level. Planning for transit along the Woodward corridor to connect major educational institutions, hospitals, and entertainment centers is one step in the right direction. It’s an easy connection, just like Matthew Stafford to Megatron. Detroit and Chicago do a similar job of linking parks to opportunity areas (better than average, but room for improvement in both) and 47% of blocks in the Detroit region are walkable—better than the majority of regions in the US. But we suspect that the Lions defense is hoping that Cutler isn’t going to walk all over THEM.

Detroit vs. Chicago – Edge Chicago (For entertainment purposes only!)

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