Traverse City Developer Ray Minervini
Jim Dulzo: Why did you leave Detroit? JD: Do you still feel that way? JD: So, what is the big problem you see with development projects today? JD: Is your Commons project an antidote? JD: Why did you join the Institute? JD: Are you hopeful? JD: Why should people join the Institute?
Ray Minervini and Building 50.
He moved to Traverse City in 1990. The Institute’s Jim Dulzo caught up with the fast-moving Mr. Minervini in his office next to Building 50, which is destined to become the Commons’ imposing, magnificent centerpiece.
Ray Minervini: I was disillusioned with the city and didn’t see how it could climb out of its downward spiral. The continuing sprawl, the leapfrogging of development out into the countryside was making the city unsustainable. Detroit is a textbook example of urbanism gone bad.
RM: You know, I recently was back there and took some time to drive around the city. I saw all of these loft apartment signs downtown! When I got to Belle Isle, it almost brought me to tears: The big fountain was rebuilt, it looked wonderful, there were people of all ethnicities around it taking pictures. It was a beautiful sight. Urbanity is sinking in everywhere, including Detroit.
RM: We’ve forgotten how to build them for people; we’re building them for cars. The width of the roads, the orientation of buildings to the street, houses with garages in the front and porches in the back, instead of the other way around. It deadens the streets.
RM: Our primary idea is people. We will accommodate autos, but we will not have the sea of asphalt other developments have. There’s a reason that when we have the Cherry Festival or other events like that, we do it in a downtown area rather than in the middle of some big mall’s parking lot. People just don’t like those things.
RM: The Institute understands land use. I’ve met a lot of the staff; their hearts are in preserving sustainable communities. It isn’t like they are just interested in saving the countryside; they are interested in quality of life everywhere. How can anybody dispute what they are doing? We are all just temporary stewards of everything, and we have a responsibility.
RM: When we begin to do things right people catch on to it. Just like something bad, something good can happen at an epidemic rate, too. Sprawl took awhile to happen; so fixing it will take some time. Our own development has been so well embraced for more reasons than having a beautiful building on beautiful grounds in close proximity to the downtown. More importantly, we tell people what we intend to create here is a true, sustainable community, a lifestyle that embraces urbanism. People say ‘Yeah!’
RM: The Institute gives us a collective voice for protecting the things that are truly important to us. When the Institute speaks, it speaks for thousands of members. There is strength in numbers. It is a form of community activism that is so important.
Jim Dulzo: Why did you leave Detroit?
JD: Do you still feel that way?
JD: So, what is the big problem you see with development projects today?
JD: Is your Commons project an antidote?
JD: Why did you join the Institute?
JD: Are you hopeful?
JD: Why should people join the Institute?