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DETROIT — Downtown Detroit is trying another tactic to revive its glory days.

America’s automobile capital is not unlike many U.S. cities that saw its white population relocate to the suburbs during the turbulent ’60s and beyond.

And the exodus of rich — mostly white — residents has left downtown looking like a ghost town, empty and deserted, punctuated by vacant shops and buildings.

Locals say that while suburban Detroit has been very comfortable to live in, downtown is another story.

“Detroit usually conjures up images of abandoned housing, trash-strewn streets and vacant lots, high drop-out rates and crime,” wrote Bill Johnson, an editorial writer at the daily Detroit News, on the paper’s Web site April 5.

But in the past few years, local businesses have joined hands with the city government to launch one revitalization project after another in hopes of luring people back to the Motor City.

In 1999, General Motors and the Detroit Marriott Renaissance Center embarked on a three-year, $100 million program to renovate the lofty 73-story hotel/business complex, which is crowned by GM’s world headquarters.

There are also two brand-new sports stadiums. Ford Field, a $300 million domed stadium, will house the Detroit Lions football team when it is finished in August. Comerica Park, a $300 million open-air stadium, became the new home of the Detroit Tigers when it opened in April 2000. The city is hoping the projects will stir up some nostalgia in the area.

The city is also trying to attract more tourists through a recently launched campaign anchored by Northwest Airlines’ new terminal at Detroit Metropolitan Airport.

Three new casinos that have opened within the city limits might help. In 1996, Michigan voters gave approval to the licensing of the three private casinos — Greektown Casino in the Greektown district, the MGM Grand Detroit Casino, and the MotorCity Casino (owned by the Mandalay Bay group) along John C. Lodge Freeway.

The consensus on the revitalization projects is so far, so good — at least as far as economic indicators are concerned.

The Detroit Comeback Index, compiled by Detroit-based Comerica Bank, tracks 23 social and economic variables to gauge the city’s progress. Using 1994 as the base year, set at 100 points, the index tracks such statistics as auto sales, employment, new startups, the crime rate and the educational performance of its schools. According to the bank, the DCI averaged 122.6 in the second quarter of 2001 and 121.3 in the third quarter.

Reporter R.J. King, who covers economic development for the Detroit News, said he is very positive about the results of the revitalization initiatives and that they have been “very well received” by local residents as well.

But the downtown area needs more than just new, huge attractions, King said. The area needs more large stores that sell ordinary items, as well as grocery stores, cleaners, drugstores and footwear shops.

“More work needs to be done in building new residences and in attracting more people to live downtown,” he said.

Meanwhile, the city and the local business community are also stepping up campaigns to draw more tourists from overseas. Northwest Airlines opened a new, state-of-the-art terminal in February at Metro Airport, the airline’s largest hub.

The new Midfield Terminal, formally called Edward H. McNamara Terminal, is impressive.

Concourse A stretches over 1.6 km and is served by two 200-passenger trams that travel inside the building, transporting nearly 4,000 passengers an hour.

The terminal has a total space of 185,000 sq. meters, compared with 69,000 sq. meters at the old terminal. And the number of gates is now up to 97 from 58.

Now that an estimated 30 million passengers use the terminal each year, local businesses want some of them to start thinking about Detroit as a place to visit rather than a place for transit.

The Tourism Economic Development Council, a consortium of local business and government leaders formed in March, has launched a 10-year Detroit promotion campaign that focuses on several attractions, including the 2006 Super Bowl, the Motown Historical Museum and the Henry Ford Museum, one of America’s top collections of industrial and historical artifacts.

But will these efforts be enough to lure the highly sought-after Japanese tourist? That’s not certain, according to JTB Corp., Japan’s largest travel agency.

JTB rarely organizes package tours to Detroit unless they involve businesspeople who are visiting to check out the auto industry, said JTB spokesman Tsuguo Chihara.

A local Japanese businessman concurred.

“Few Japanese travel guide books have entries for Detroit,” said Shotaro Nakahama, executive director at Japan Business Society of Detroit.

Hakahama is not sure the projects will succeed in revitalizing downtown Detroit.

He said most of the Japanese in Detroit live in the suburbs and have had few opportunities to go downtown, despite the ongoing renovations.

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