The losses have been staggering. Between 2000 and 2010, its population plummeted by 25%. Unemployment rose north of 18%. Building after building and lot after lot lay fallow, abandoned, along block after block.

Now Detroit, one of the Midwest's most beleaguered cities, has begun the task of digging out. Last week, the Detroit Works Project, a privately funded initiative undertaken by Mayor Dave Bing, released recommendations for remapping the city's future.

Much of it isn't surprising, given the plan calls for expanding existing business districts, reusing abandoned industrial buildings, redeveloping vacant parcels and beautifying key road ways. Whether the plan spurs action remains to be seen. As Laura Mirviss, a writer for Architectural Record, recently observed, “Detroit has racked up a large collection of shelved master plans.”

The good news is the city is showing surer signs of progress. On Monday, U.S. Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood lauded state and city lawmakers for creating a regional transit authority and raising funds to construct a 3.3-mile light-rail project along Woodward Avenue, a corridor extending through the heart of downtown Detroit.

As reported by the Detroit Free Press, the Kresge Foundation has committed $35 million to the project, the Detroit Downtown Development Authority $9 million, and Detroit businesses and nonprofits $30 million. The project also received a DOT grant.

Meantime, Detroit developers and city planners are eying several other ventures, including a 550,000-sq-ft mixed-use development by Rock Venture, which also purchased eight downtown buildings last year.

Though it may not break ground this year, Olympia Entertainment has announced plans to construct a $650-million entertainment district anchored by a new stadium for hockey's Detroit Red Wings.

Another development team, which includes former basketball star Magic Johnson, plans to convert a 162-acre former fairground to a 500,000-sq-ft, mixed-use development with retail and residential uses.

Nice. Detroit could use a little magic.