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DETROIT-Mayor Kwame Kilpatrick, now under fire for allegedly having an affair with his top aide, lying about the affair while under oath in court and approving a lawsuit settlement without council approval when he learned the affair might be revealed, gave a hopeful but defensive speech Tuesday night about the future of Detroit in his State of the City address. In the speech, Kilpatrick praised the development plans for the city, though he offered few new ideas in terms of commercial growth, mostly focusing on a $300-million to $330-million bond proposal to build public facilities and infrastructure.

In recent months a local newspaper, the Detroit Free Press, was able to acquire records of allegedly explicit cell phone text messages with Kilpatrick’s former chief of staff Christine Beatty, giving details of the affair (she resigned soon after the story broke). It’s also been revealed that the mayor allegedly approved a secret settlement to end a lawsuit by two former police officials, who claimed they were fired in part to cover up the affair. Kilpatrick did not directly admit the affair, but made a vague apology to residents in a private news conference. This scandal has rocked a city already staggering under a recession and 15% unemployment.

In his address, he pointed at current redevelopment efforts of the Pick Fort Shelby Hotel, the Monroe Block and the Book Cadillac Hotel, as well as plans by Quicken Loans to move Downtown and the new casino projects, as proof that commercial development in the city is on an upswing. “In total, counting large and small projects, we have rehabilitated 75 buildings in Downtown Detroit. We have achieved more than $6 billion in new development throughout this city, and we’re doing all of this in spite of the worst economic times Michigan has faced since the Great Depression,” the mayor said.

He also defended the city against those who have undervalued Detroit. He referenced a Brookings Institution Social Compact study that showed the city can support more than three million additional sf of retail (though most grocery chains have refused to open a store in Detroit), and touted 22 brownfield redevelopment projects approved in 2007, “worth more than $2.3 billion of potential investment.”

Special departments such as the Workforce Development Department have also helped keep new projects and jobs in Detroit, Kilpatrick said. The department stayed Caraco Pharmaceutical Laboratories Inc. from moving to South Carolina and encouraged a deal with Papa John’s to develop 15 pizza restaurants in the city, he said during the speech.The only other development projects mentioned in the speech were a plan to complete the acquisition of land along French Road to complete improvements to City Airport “to make it a viable commercial or general aviation airport,” he said, and the future demolition of 50 vacant commercial and apartment structures around the city, which have sat empty for decades.

Kilpatrick did not mention the scandal directly. However, he did reiterate that he would not resign, as has been called for by some political leaders. “The challenge for all of us in public office is to rise above our differences, to rise above our human frailties, and maintain our focus on working together to move this city forward,” he said toward the end of the address.

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