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NEWSONE/BP POLL: Were Dan Gilbert's Comments Racist? (thumbnail)Quicken Loans founder and Chairman Dan Gilbert and other business and civic leaders will lay out their vision for a livelier retail-centered downtown Thursday to an audience of more than 400 invited guests.

The by-invitation event will be held at City Theatre in the Hockeytown Café.

In an e-mail invitation, Gilbert said that the session will present a case for “Opportunity Detroit.”

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“Our vision is for treasured public spaces like Campus Martius/Cadillac Square, Grand Circus Park and Capitol Park to be transformed into pedestrian-friendly beacons of activity igniting Detroit with a level of energy and excitement not experienced in generations, if ever,” he wrote. “The goal here is to make downtown Detroit nothing less than an attraction and destination for both residents and visitors alike.”

Joined by leaders including George Jackson, president and CEO of the Detroit Economic Growth Corp., and Davd Blaszkiewicz, president and CEO of the civic group Downtown Detroit Partnership, Gilbert and others will talk about the results of recent visioning sessions to plan for an activity-filled downtown.

Project for Public Spaces, a New York-based consultant that helps cities liven up underused urban spaces, conducted many of the recent visioning exercises that were held at the D:hive meeting space on Woodward Avenue among other locations.

PPS’s works to enliven space follows a mantra of “lighter, quicker, cheaper” – getting result quickly through the “activation of space” with more outdoor furniture, better lighting, wider sidewalks that allow for outdoor seating and other staples of urban design.

But the leaders will also show images of what downtown might look like with a multitude of new retail offerings. Gilbert himself has made retail a prime goal, and he and his aides have worked to bring temporary or “pop-up” retails to Woodward Avenue over the past year.

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Also, Gilbert’s crews are now beginningconstruction on a 1,300-space parking garage with 33,000 square feet of retail space in downtown Detroit near the Compuware Building.

“Opportunities are endless,” Gilbert said in his e-mail message to invitees. “We believe now is the time for all of us to take our game to an even higher level and collaborate, connect, innovative and activate our downtown like never before.”

Contact John Gallagher: 313-222-5173 or gallagher99@freepress.com

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