Four-Part Redevelopment Plan for Detroit Neighborhoods Turns Community Feedback into Action Steps to Enhance Quality of Life for All
Drawing from philanthropic contributions and public funding, Detroit’s Strategic Neighborhood Fund is designed to continue the City’s renaissance through focused neighborhood redevelopment. The initiative aims to drive economic vitality and enhance quality of life in targeted neighborhoods through efforts centered on the rehabilitation and restoration of vacant housing, the introduction of mixed-use development at opportunity sites, a focus on parks and public spaces, and mobility improvements and streetscape enhancements to commercial corridors.
The East Warren / Cadieux area, encompassing the neighborhoods of Morningside, East English Village and Cornerstone Village, offers extensive opportunity for revitalization due to its strong community leadership, its burgeoning commercial district along E. Warren, and existing assets such as the Alger Theater and Balduck Park. The City partnered with OHM Advisors to lead the development of a Neighborhood Framework Plan that outlines near-term capital improvement projects as well as financing strategies and policies to bring the plan recommendations to bear.
Public engagement was a key component of the planning process to incorporate the spirit of East Warren / Cadieux residents and the goals of the City’s initiative in the Plan. Due to challenges presented by the COVID-19 pandemic, our team took special care to develop an engagement strategy that was as inclusive and equitable as possible, involving a variety of options for community members and business owners to provide ideas and feedback to the project team during the planning process. We used a slate of tools such as Virtual Office Hours, postcards, yard signs, Zoom community meetings, canvassing, and social media to reach different subsets of the community for feedback.
Grounded in this input from the community, our team developed conceptual designs paired with funding strategies to address four focus areas in the neighborhood. The study focuses on the transformation of the E. Warren Corridor into a neighborhood main street through mobility and streetscape enhancements. Poised to not only improve safety and access for all users, the enhancements align with the City’s Small Business Attraction Strategy and promote a healthy, sustainable local economy. In addition to improving E. Warren, the Plan includes catalytic projects to stabilize housing, increase ease of access to neighborhood park amenities, and introduce high-quality mixed-use development at targeted sites. The action-oriented Plan will guide future investment in the neighborhood and help to align new development with the goals and aspirations of the community.
Project highlights: planning, economic development planning, neighborhood planning, land use planning, transportation planning, landscape architecture, urban design, streetscape design, park design, historic preservation, market analysis, community engagement, public engagement and facilitation
OHM anticipated our need to engage remotely with the community during social distancing and they came prepared to meetings with suggestions for how to do that effectively. Being mindful of the digital divide, they suggested both low- and high-tech tools. Their preparedness helped us select methods that fit the unique needs of the community. As a result, we are maintaining engagement and avoiding some of the virtual engagement hiccups other organizations have recently experienced.