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Tuesday, April 1, 2014

Another side of 'The Albert'

Posted By on Tue, Apr 1, 2014 at 1:32 PM

Courtesy Photo

Katy Levy was taken aback after watching a promo video for the new upscale lofts being constructed inside an Albert Kahn-designed building in Capitol Park at 1214 Griswold now called "The Albert." The video, a promotional tool clearly seeking to attract young, affluent people, made the rounds across local news sites last month.

The problem she had with the video was the obvious lack of 1214 Griswold's actual residents, the majority of which are seniors and disabled tenants, who had to be evicted in order to make The Albert a reality. 

"Hearing directly the voices of the elderly in direct conflict with the voices of the developers, I thought, would help to dispense people into further research about the machinations of poverty and gentrification, and the ways these two phenomenons work together," Levy tells us in an email. "...The voices of the people effected by the policies debated by activists and politicians can go missing from the debate."

For 1214 Griswold's residents, she says, that's entirely the case. "They never got to choose who represented them in all of this" to help for relocation services," Levy says. So, she grabbed her camera, filmed a few of the resident's voicing their opinions, and blended their remarks in with The Albert's promo video, resulting in this:

A goal of the video, she says, was "to get it into the hands of people who would consider renting at the Albert and ask them to think twice. In every American city we’ve seen luxury housing projects displace entire neighborhoods for the benefit of a select few. If Detroit wants to break this paradigm—a disappearing middle class from the city centers, developers and the city should promote mixed-income housing all around the city. We should all come to terms with the fact that the notion that poor people can’t contribute to a healthy housing market is based on racism, greed, ignorance and scandal."

The video also caught the attention of Detroiters Resisting Emergency Management, a coalition of Detroit's local activist groups, who denounced the marketing campaign as "heavy-handed and over-the-top in its sense of entitlement and obliviousness, that it inspired widespread public revulsion" in the form of Levy's video.

“The blatant injustice of kicking fixed income elderly people of color out of prime real-estate to make way for, if we are to believe the promo video, young affluent whites is outrageous,” Thomas Stephens of Detroiters Resisting Emergency Management said in a statement. “This is what happens when you make plans like Detroit Future City with no references to the racial or economic realities that have put Detroit in the crisis that it’s in.  The solution is not further devastation of the most vulnerable.  The people being pandered to in the video for Gilbert’s luxury apartment have many options.”

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