Publication Date



Open access

Embargo Period


Degree Name

Master of Arts (MA)


Geography (Arts and Sciences)

Date of Defense


First Committee Member

J. Miguel Kanai

Second Committee Member

Diana K. Ter-Ghazaryan

Third Committee Member

Robin F. Bachin


Struggling to provide basic services due to a dwindling tax base and confronted with significant pockets of vacant land, Detroit has proposed a radical urban restructuring. The Detroit Future City framework aims to reappropriate large swaths of land in order to concentrate people and services in select locations throughout the city. Characterizing this plan as typical of the contemporary trends of neoliberal urban governance, this research examines the basis for and proposed results of this crisis-driven urban restructuring. Using comparative statistics of populations within proposed future land uses, this research suggests that the most severe spatial injustices will be leveled against the poorest and most vulnerable citizens. Contrary to publicized efforts of civic engagement by the project’s development team, it is suggested that citizen input was bypassed in favor of market-driven measures when delineating future land use. Furthermore, opportunities for resistance to the plan are complicated by historical racial tension, reduced democratic opportunity, and a fragmented and competitive local territory.


neoliberal; urban; detroit; spatial; justice; detroit works project