In an effort to build community, Jerry Belanger has quietly redeveloped two bars along Detroit's burgeoning Park Street bar district.
"'For me Detroit is more than the building. It's a concept of community,; Belanger says. 'When I built this I wanted the community integrated into the brick and mortar so people could see it built into the building. This really has Detroit written all over it because it was born out of the concepts and creativity of the artisans who worked on it.'"
"There is definitely a method to Belanger's madness. He built The Park Bar as a refuge for city residents. Many of the bars in the Grand Circus Park area cater to the suburban crowds patronizing the theater district and sports stadium, so 'it's almost like when locals come to Grand Circus Park – it's like they're aliens,' he says."
"Even though a handful of 42-inch flat-screen TVs surround the central column that serves as the bar's axis, they are usually turned off. Belanger keeps them off because patrons are more likely to mingle without the distraction. He also designed the round bar so patrons look at each other and start conversations."