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Motown’s one-man show

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DETROIT — Gazing from the 14th floor toward the city center and the fragile sprouts of urban development along the river, Detroit’s Caesar says laconically: “One hundred and thirty-one to go.” Kevyn Orr, Detroit’s emergency manager appointed by Gov. Rick Snyder, means that housing in this vibrant enclave is 97 percent leased. The enclave is, however, only eight square miles of this city’s 139 square miles.

Here in Greece on the Great Lakes, Orr, a Washington bankruptcy lawyer, is Detroit’s real government. He recently spoke in the governor’s office in Cadillac Place, an enormous 90-year-old building with brass door frames and a lobby as cavernous as a cathedral. The building, an architectural echo of vanished grandeur, was General Motors’ headquarters until the company moved into the magnificently misnamed Renaissance Center, a gleaming anomaly that towers over Detroit’s decrepitude. It opened in 1977, when Henry Ford II proclaimed: “Detroit has reached the bottom and is on its way back up.”

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