Thursday, June 4, 2015

Midtown or Cass Corridor? Jack White attempts to change the conversation

Posted By on Thu, Jun 4, 2015 at 6:30 AM

click to enlarge The view on Canfield Street, which has seen an influx of new businesses in recent years. - LEE DEVITO
  • Lee DeVito
  • The view on Canfield Street, which has seen an influx of new businesses in recent years.

On Tuesday, news came over the wire that Detroit-born rocker Jack White had teamed up with Shinola's Tom Kartsotis to purchase 441 W. Canfield, the home of Shinola's flagship store. The purchase will allow White to create a Detroit branch for his Nashville-based Third Man Records, while Shinola will continue to operate within the space.

Suspiciously absent from Third Man's press release: The word "Midtown," a name that has become synonymous with that neighborhood's recent redevelopment. Indeed, White instead refers to "the Cass Corridor," a name often more associated with the neighborhood's seedier era — and related art movement — and not often used since the rise of Midtown.

When we talked to nonprofit Midtown Detroit, Inc.'s Sue Mosey about neighborhood branding earlier this year, she explained that "Midtown" wasn't meant to replace a tarnished "Cass Corridor," but rather unite the Corridor under an umbrella that also includes neighborhoods like Art Center and Brush Park.

Yet anecdotally, we've noticed a sort of psychogeographical border develop between the concepts of "the Cass Corridor" and "Midtown": "When they build a condo, they say it happened in a place called Midtown. When there's a shooting, they say it happened in Cass Corridor!"

When asked for comment, Third Man employee (and native Detroiter) Ben Blackwell replied, "The neighborhood will always be the Cass Corridor to us." 

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