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DETROIT-While business migration into Downtown Detroit may bring hope for a rebirth of the Motor City, there are still more obstacles to overcome, says a local real estate expert.

Ray Parker of RFP Associates said he’s spent more than 20 years selling buildings and leasing office space in Detroit. While he agrees that new developments like the Detroit Tiger’s Comerica Park, the Detroit Lions’ Ford Field, the massive Campus Martius project and the move by EDS and General Motors Corp. into Renaissance Center have shown promise for the city, there still is one more element which is necessary in order to bring success.

People have to live here, Parker told GlobeSt.com. There can be 5,000 to 10,000 new employees working downtown, but that won’t fill the restaurants or encourage more development, he said. “For retail to come in, it would be better to have 6,000 new residents than 6,000 new workers,” Parker told GlobeSt.com. “Restaurants and other businesses say that they’re really hurting on the off times, on weekends and evenings. You can’t just build a business on lunch traffic.”

Retail businesses, the sign of a successful downtown, won’t come until there’s residential foot traffic, Parker said. Loft projects are growing in the city, but there are more possible. More retail customers do exist, Parker said. “In spite of Detroit’s negative image, there are some people who want to live downtown. It used to be just people like artists, but now lofts have become popular,” Parker said.

However, the recent hype about new developments has actually created a barrier to more building renovations of older facilities. “The asking price of property has gone crazy,” Parker said.

People have seen Detroit as on the cusp of rebirth for years, Parker said, and building owners are just waiting for a chance to boost the sale price on their vacant property. “They want to raise the property values early, when it’s still not worth it,” he said. “That just makes it that much harder for a developer to work a project, because they won’t make that much after the redevelopment is done.”

He said inflated values are why so many properties are still vacant. Without city help or creative financing, these projects can’t go forward, Parker said. Unless owners realize their own part in the destruction of the market, a rebirth will not take shape, Parker said.

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