Downtown Pontiac, MI

Click here to view the full Pontiac, MI album on Flickr
I decided to only review Dwtn Pontiac as that was mostly what I visited and because this is the most viable urban portion of Pontiac. During urban renewal Woodward was build as a loop around dwtn. I used this as the neighborhood’s boundary.

Founded in 1818, Pontiac is one of the earliest Michigan settlements. The city was best known for its General Motors auto plants from the early 20th century. Throughout the 1920s and 30s, Pontiac boomed with thousands of new autoworkers moving here from the South. Like many Michigan manufacturing towns, the town fell on hard times. But in 2010, city leaders and business owners had launched “The Rise of The Phoenix” initiative to attract new businesses and retail space. This has certainly gone a long way to stabilize downtown and fill it with many storefronts but plenty of underdeveloped and vacant parts of downtown, especially along the edges where the Woodward loop road destroyed significant urban fabric. Unfortunately neighborhoods in Pontiac have not seen a whole lot of reinvestment.

The way forward to make Downtown Pontiac a truly viable urban place is continued in-fill and population attraction. 

URBAN STRENGTHS:

*  Fair amount of jobs dwtn as Pontiac is the county seat. Also 30 minute drive to dwtn Detroit but takes just over an hour to commute via bus.
* Nice cultural assets including several historic theaters, some night clubs, and decent array of restaurants, bars, and breweries.
* Nice array of neighborhood services and boutiques in many filled historic storefronts. Also the public and a major hospital are located Downtown.
* Dwtn Pontiac generally feels safe but a fair of blight and vacancy on the edges of Dwtn.
* Several schools on the northern and eastern edge of dwtn. Mixed ratings but nice mix of K-12 Schools.
* Great urban fabric and streetscape along Saginaw, the main drag, but certainly lacking on the edges of Dwtn.

URBAN WEAKNESSES:

* New bike lanes have been added to dwtn Pontiac but still a long way to go for Pontiac to be bike friendly.
* The residential population is generally lower income and Black. But the dwtn caters to a diverse population for work and shopping. Decent generational diversity though
* For sale housing limited to the north edge of dwtn. Generally between 50K-100K. Rental product is also pretty limited but some nice apartments generally listing around 1,000 for 1-bedrooms.
* Interesting modernist plaza and amphitheater at the City centered on top of a parking lot. Really not other park/plaza space outside of this.
* No supermarket, post office, or drug store located downtown.

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