Neighborhoods are becoming increasingly fertile ground for significant private and public investments. There are new and ongoing transformations on some of Detroit’s well-worn blocks and in emerging subdivisions.
You can find it all here in “The Map,” TheHUB’s definitive guide to neighborhood investments, which takes an in-depth look at local development efforts. Our series details projects in process and those in pre-development and/or planning stages that are supported by verified spending, not just concepts, as well as construction and completed projects.
This month we take a look at what’s happening in District 6, represented by Detroit City Council Member Raquel Castaneda-Lopez and supported by the Department of Neighborhoods District Manager Ninfa Cancel and Deputy District Manager Ammie Woodruff.
TheHUB examined projects in the district, starting with the planned infrastructure span that will connect Detroit to Windsor, Canada, the Gordie Howe International Bridge named in honor of the Detroit Red Wings legend. The value of this immense project is said to be worth between $2 billion and $6 billion to the economies of Michigan and Ontario. Construction bids are due to the Windsor- Detroit Bridge Authority by next spring and actual construction could begin in the second half of 2018.
Staying on the theme of infrastructure improvements, two major freeways crisscross the District, I-75 and I-94, which are slated for major reconstruction with work on I-75 happening now and I-94 slated for a major overall and widening in the next few years.
“But what about the neighborhoods,” some ask?
Due to its dense (large number of properties) neighborhoods and close proximity to downtown and Midtown, Southwest Detroit is a prime candidate for development by investors looking for more bargains before property values take off.
Invest Detroit has targeted the historic Hubbard Farms neighborhood along W. Grand Blvd. as one of the first three micro-districts across the city for re-development with projects on the drawing board from the renovation of seven long-vacant townhomes to new, mixed-use construction along W. Vernor near the iconic Clark Park.
District 6 is home to “The Corner” of Michigan and Trumbull, which is currently being transformed from the site of the historic Tiger Stadium into a multi-faceted complex of recreation, housing and retail developments and the flagship headquarters of Detroit PAL.
District 6 has the most diverse population in the city, with the largest concentration of Hispanics arriving from Mexico, Puerto Rico and increasingly from other countries in Latin America where many have fled due to civil or economic unrest. Southwest Detroit has seen stable population numbers over the past few decades despite the ebb and flow of immigrants entering the community and later moving to other parts of the metro area.
In recent years the demographic wave has involved younger, white residents moving into trendy neighborhoods in the district, like Corktown, driving rental prices much higher. And, new businesses have set up shop, such as El Club and Pizza Plex, which attract a younger, non-Hispanic clientele.
Castaneda-Lopez, who navigates what sometimes feel like “different universes” between the Southwest and downtown areas, says “otherisms” remain a challenge.
A descendant of Mexican immigrants, she describes the district’s diversity as an asset that often needs nurturing. Racial and cultural resentment is just one aspect of division among her constituents. There are also concerns that renters get more support and attention than homeowners, or that occupants on one side of Livernois Avenue are favored versus another.
“If you are a community that has no block clubs, that has no organized neighborhood structures, then my job is to work with you,” Castaneda-Lopez says.
Divisions between district residents stem from different “access to power,” she adds. Investments should accommodate the needs and preferences of the neighborhoods immediately surrounding them, she says, which creates a greater sense of equity.
Castaneda-Lopez opposed construction of the Little Caesars Arena, saying the new entertainment venue excludes many neighbors who can’t afford its expensive concert tickets.
“It’s about making sure that this type of development is made for the existing population here,” Castaneda-Lopez says.
There has been other pushback by existing residents against the influx of newcomers, especially those perceived as disrespectful of the history and culture of their more tenured neighbors. Southwest Detroit is a microcosm for these trends we see happening throughout the city. But to their credit, Southwest Detroiters have responded in a thoughtful way to the changes happening in their community by talking to, and not just about, the newcomers.
About two years ago, the local nonprofit Congress of Communities launched a series of “Let’s Talk” conversations between long-time and newer residents that seemed to diffuse some of the anger and misunderstandings by facing the issue head on. More of those kinds of dialogues would be helpful to Detroit’s attempts to manage the growth and diversity that is coming our way.
Many investments in Detroit’s neighborhoods are still in their infancy and there is a long way to go before those who see disparity in the pace of development as a tale of two cities will change their minds.
TheHUB will continue to monitor developments as they happen, and we’ll ask the hard questions about the value and impact of the kinds of development proposed for the neighborhoods. We also will continue to probe for answers when development is not happening in some neighborhoods.
We want to thank the many community development organizations and for-profit developers for supporting our effort to compile an accurate and thorough inventory of the investments in District 6 and, most particularly, our sponsors who generously support this effort. There is a lot going on in Detroit neighborhoods. We are pleased to share their progress with you. Let us know what you think.
Lead photo by Michelle & Chris Gerard
See more of TheHUB’s #LiveLoveDetroit coverage on District 6:
Why investors are pouring $5 billion into southwest Detroit
The $5 Billion Zone: Southwest Detroit is a hotbed of development
City Living’s Austin Black explains why housing investments are on the rise in District 6
Eighty-eight southwest Detroit shop owners eye potential to build-out profit-producing loft space
ProsperUS helps southwest Detroit entrepreneurs climb aboard $3.9 billion economic engine
Model development in Southwest Detroit builds housing that suits neighborhood need while driving additional investment
Detroit’s Rivertown readies for improvements to waterfront
‘Life changing’ program helps young Detroiters through high-growth skilled trades industry
Bridge to new beginnings: One small Detroit community fought for its share and won
Changing the Tide: Public officials work to reduce negative impact of deportation