5 years after declaring bankruptcy, Detroit reborn at a cost

In this July 11, 2018 photo, James Murphy, left, and Bryan Knoche work the counter at Fred's Key Shop in Midtown Detroit. Five years after Detroit filed for the largest municipal bankruptcy in U.S. history, Knoche says the small, family-owned locksmith business is "busier than ever" because more people are moving into the area. (AP Photo/Corey Williams)
This June 6, 2018 photo, shows a vacant house in Detroit's Brightmoor neighborhood. The city has demolished thousands of vacant houses five years after filing the largest municipal bankruptcy in U.S. history, but some residents say more can be done to improve neighborhoods like Brightmoor. (AP Photo/Corey Williams)
In this June 6, 2018 photo, Alice Holland stands outside the front door of her home in Detroit's Brightmoor neighborhood. Holland likes how things are improving in Detroit five years after the city filed the largest municipal bankruptcy in U.S. history, but says more improvements can be made in city neighborhoods. Holland complains that trash-clogged drains cause some streets in Brightmoor to flood during heavy rains. (AP Photo/Corey Williams)
This June 6, 2018 photo shows a vacant house, back left, and abandoned car in Detroit's Brightmoor neighborhood. The city has demolished thousands of vacant houses five years after filing the largest municipal bankruptcy in U.S. history, but some residents say more can be done to improve neighborhoods like Brightmoor. (AP Photo/Corey Williams)

DETROIT — It's been five years since Detroit bottomed out after decades of decline, admitting in the largest U.S. municipal bankruptcy filing ever that the country's one-time industrial engine could no longer pay its bills.

The turnaround since then has been remarkable, with major investments that have brought new jobs, the rebirth of neighborhoods whose best days were half a century ago and the restoration of street cleaning and lighting — services so basic yet important to a sense of community.

It also cost some people more than others.

Jean Estell, who retired in 2004 after working for nearly three decades in Detroit's recreation and public works departments, lost part of her pension and her retiree health coverage in the bankruptcy settlement. A former business owner so his company go belly-up when his city contract wasn't renewed.

Business is booming in some parts of the city, though, with the influx of investment and new blood.

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