In London, there is always a corner which buzzes, which radiates and attracts people. And it almost always was a deprived corner of the city before and becomes a middle class residential area afterwards (if you are lucky, if not, it becomes a tourist attraction). For example, London's East End used to be very poor, and in parts still is, but areas like Brick Lane made it big time. It first became a less well known hangout for creatives in need of cheap rent and (head) space. Then things started to "happen" there, businesses moved in and, for better of worse, it became a hip place. The artists moved on.
What is almost always true in these cycles, is that it is the creative potential in an area that triggers the change. So, is there a way we can apply this to bigger problems like Detroit? How could we attract creative minds into urban wastelands? Why would they want to go there? Offering them an empty canvas? How could we make it sustainable?
I was very much inspired by a TED talk that is highly relevant for this challange: Emily Pilloton: Teaching design for change (http://www.ted.com/talks/emily_pilloton_teaching_design_for_change.html)