Silicon Valley transplant Jerry Paffendorf chose Detroit: "I thought I should look at big problems. You know, let’s get real."

A mysterious fire gutted Paffendorf's performance space, but he remains optimistic about its future, and Detroit's.

Jerry Paffendorf

Jerry Paffendorf

When a much-touted light-rail project stalled, 26-year-old Andy Didorosi stepped in: "We're the other option, all of us scrappy folks."

Andy Didorosi

Andy Didorosi

Andy Didorosi

Alicia and John George faced down financial hardship and endless bureaucracy to create the only coffee shop for miles.

Alicia and John George

Alicia and John George

In addition to her retail shop, Margarita Barry runs a design business and a website for young entrepreneurs.

Margarita Barry

Margarita Barry

Josh McManus

Josh McManus

A Detroit Love Story In Pictures

Meet Jerry Paffendorf, Andy Didorosi, and other pioneers mining opportunities in Motor City.

Detroit has often sought salvation in big solutions: a car company comeback; the Renaissance Center, a cluster of seven towers downtown; casinos; the 2006 Super Bowl; the 2009 election of Bing, a Detroit Piston star turned steel magnate. Nothing has worked.

But the city's depression—and the depressed real estate prices that came with it—created opportunities. And opportunity lures entrepreneurs. The startup types, like Jerry Paffendorf. And the ones with lots of money, like Dan Gilbert, the founder and chairman of Quicken Loans, the third-largest mortgage provider in the country; he moved 1,700 employees downtown in 2010, giving him 7,000 employees there and making him Detroit's third-largest landowner (trailing only the city and General Motors). With slicked-back hair and a perpetual poker face, Gilbert has just gotten started on his plan to transform the area.

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[Photos by Corine Vermeulen]

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