Redefining Detroit

distant view of Detroit
file photo

A Detroit-based community development trade association, The Community Development Advocates of Detroit, has released a report that, among other proposals, suggests that certain residential areas be transformed into “green venture zones,” “naturescapes,” and “green thoroughfares,” in addition to commercial hubs, and traditional residential sectors.

The report, Neighborhood Revitalization Strategic Framework comprises a number of neighborhood revitalization recommendations and “is the work of a unique, multi-sector collaborative representing over 85 community development organizations, government, funding institutions, businesses, educational institutions, and city-wide and regional nonprofit organizations,” according to a CDAD press release.

With more than 30 percent of the city’s 139 square miles vacant, the idea of handling what are not only long-term, but permanent changes to Detroit’s physical and socioeconomic makeup, has long been on the radar of city government, CBOs, and local planners. Early last year, Dan Pitera, a professor of architecture at University of Detroit Mercy, assembled a map that illustrates how to fit the land mass of Manhattan, San Francisco, and Boston and their combined populations into Detroit — roughly 3 million people.

According to Tim Thorland, chairman of the CDAD board:

“It is only when we understand the conditions and strategies necessary for the entire city, that we can begin to make decisions about specific neighborhoods. Furthermore, we can’t simply ignore areas of the City without understanding what their new purpose might be. We must determine what entity should own and manage that land. Otherwise crime, environmental dumping and other negative factors will surely result.”

Matthew Brian Hersh served as senior editor at Shelterforce from March 2008 to October 2012. He studied English at Rutgers University and has spent his professional career in journalism, policy, and politics.


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