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Weirdest Idea to Save Detroit Yet: Zombies – Neighborhoods – The Atlantic Cities

Weirdest Idea to Save Detroit Yet: Zombies

About six months ago, Mark Siwak decided to save Detroit.

He didn’t have millions of dollars to pump into the crumbling metropolis; what he had was a unique idea. “I thought, What do we have around here? A lot of abandoned buildings, blight, neighborhoods that are completely devastated,” says the 40-year-old financial manager, who works in Detroit and lives in Royal Oak, Michigan. “I have a little interest in the zombie genre…. I thought, What can you do creatively with this land that doesn’t require a massive capital investment? What can you do that embraces what we have here?”

The answer: Z World Detroit, a project to transform the city’s blight through the curative power of flesh-eating zombies.

Siwak and his friends want to build a theme park in an abandoned neighborhood and throw open the doors to international zombie-survivalist fans. Siwak thinks people will pay good money to get chased around in the dead of night by a pack of undead droolers. In perhaps the weirdest revitalization scheme yet, he says the park’s popularity would help attract new businesses like hotels to the struggling city.

“People just want to live for a day in a zombie apocalypse,” Siwak explains. “This is the best and worst camping trip of your life.”

I recently talked with this visionary capitalist to suss out the bloody details of Z World. At only $2,788 raised toward his $145,000 realization goal, the zombie destination is struggling for a shot at the big time. But Siwak sounded optimistic that people will soon be racing to Detroit to get faux-killed. Here’s what he had to say, slightly edited for clarity:

You must really like zombies.

You know, I watch The Walking Dead, I’ve read the World War Z book…. I like the whole concept of there’s a “horde.” What really got me into zombies was World War Z.  It has larger, broader social ramifications: What would really happen if there was a zombie apocalypse?

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