Slow Renaissance 

It's hard to know where to begin, reflecting on a year with so much that has happened. Celebrating my 20th year in the real estate business (with 15 years with my own company) in downtown Detroit is a good place to start. Now, an opportunity to liquidate and move on has become more enticing as the effects that come with turning 50 are more evident. Couple that with the events of Sept. 11 and it seriously impacts your priorities. A certain weariness of doing the same basic things for 20 years gets stronger especially when the progress you expect is not on the schedule you expected. I've been saying "five years from now …" since the Ren Cen opened in 1977. I really believed Detroit would be farther along by now in its revitalization. What I see are missed opportunities to rebuild the city around new housing and support of small businesses. Detroit is always suckered in by doing the mega projects while ignoring the smaller ones that are the foundation of any city. Being an eternal optimist, though, I'm hoping the new mayor, Kilpatrick will have a broader vision of inclusion in his plans and the backbone to carry them out.

The events of Sept. 11 had a major initial impact and will have some permanent impact. Some of the patience and politeness of three months ago have vanished. I see people again blowing their horns at other drivers. Recent experiences with MichCon and Comcast have convinced me that customer service has only gotten worse. You know, it's hard to figure out exactly what is going on with the economy. Every day thousands are being laid off and companies are going bankrupt. Car sales are at their peak and retail isn't doing too badly. Predictions are the economy will be OK soon into next year, with or without this stimulus package being fought over in Congress. We are making progress in Afghanistan but still haven't caught bin Laden. At least reading the latest information about the tragedy and some heartwarming side stories puts me back into that more peace-loving, caring mood. Other than that, its still a crazy world, and I am looking forward to a prosperous and healthy 2002. Ray Parker heads RFP Associates in downtown

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