When you think about Detroit’s comeback, the stories often focus on downtown Detroit. There’s a new skyscraper being built, new apartments are announced every few weeks, and you can hardly walk a block along Woodward without seeing construction.
That said, Detroit is much more than a footprint downtown. In the past year, we’ve seen major changes start to happen in Detroit’s neighborhoods, too. That’s why we’re taking a look at changes coming, or already underway, in five neighborhoods around Detroit.
Back in April 2017, the city of Detroit announced a major undertaking in the Fitzgerald neighborhood which would involve bulldozing aging homes, rehabbing those that still had life in them and creating a new park and green space areas.
“It makes us feel a little safe,” said Tony, a resident said clearing out the vacant homes has made a huge difference. “You could come to your car and not know what was going to happen, but now you can see the sidewalks, you can see your neighbors. They tore down these houses and now it looks better, feels better too.”
Just a block from his home, the new Ella Fitzgerald park is in its finishing phases. Recently, the community got together for a mural painting, and construction workers can be seen as the work continues. Fresh sidewalks line the street, and the road was re-paved, as well.
“People are fixing up houses that have been bought,” he said. “They been fixed up inside. It makes the block look at a lot better. It was horrible, it was.”
The two-year plan is a little over a year in. When the work is done, more than 100 homes will have been rehabbed. The city also noted a $5 million investment for commercial use in the area when ground was broken in 2017.
Corktown was already seeing revitalization in recent years, most recently with the addition of the Detroit PAL ballpark on the site of old Tiger Stadium. Excitement is on another level after the announcement that Ford had purchased the Michigan Central Station site and has plans to rehab the building and create a location for 5,000 employees.
Bill Ford, Jim Hackett and other Ford executives will have more details for the location on Tuesday morning (June 19th), but plenty of information is already readily available .
THE GREATER VILLAGES
The Greater Villages technically consistsof three neighborhoods, but the area as a whole has seen major changes for years — and the growth isn’t showing any signs of stopping soon.
One of the biggest signs of change: a house being razed and moved so that a new apartment complex can be built at the corner of Van Dyke and Kercheval. Across the street from the site of the future project, a rehabbed building stands where a developer has already invested.
“It’s a little harder doing it in the neighborhood, rather than doing it downtown but it’s worth it for a city to thrive,” said Terra Castro, one of the business owners in the area. “We really have to invest in our neighborhoods, our neighbors and our communities.”
Castro is one of several female business owners who are behind some of the booming growth in the Greater Villages. Sister Pie, Vegan Soul, Live. Cycle. Delight, and Red Hook are other businesses that have also popped up in recent years. Castro, who runs Detroit Body Garage, has seen her own business grow so quickly she’s moving five blocks away from a building she’s already helped rehab to revive another vacant building.
“We’ve found the formula that works for neighborhoods to thrive,” said Castro. “Have a coffee shop, have a bakery, have restaurants, have a gym and have a place for people to go to connect.”
The North End is expecting major changes in the coming years after a new focus from the Detroit non-profit Develop Detroit.
Earlier this year, its board took part in a groundbreaking ceremony to highlight a two-community push. The plan involved building, or rehabbing, up to 70 homes between two neighborhoods: North End and Grandmont-Rosedale.
“We want this to be something that benefits the existing community, but is also attractive to people who have a family and is looking for a starter home,” said Sonia Mays, the President and CEO of Develop Detroit at this year’s groundbreaking.
Last month, the city of Detroit announced its expansion of their strategic neighborhood fund.
Among the seven neighborhoods added to the list, bringing the total to 10, is the Jefferson-Chalmers neighborhood. It marks an opportunity for continued growth in the area that’s already seeing success with its business strip. The city has plans to add bike lanes, and a number of renovation projects were already underway before the SNF money was announced.
Back in 2016, work began to bring back the Vanity Ballroom. The cost of the project will be in the ballpark of $8 million. The one-time dance club was originally built in the 1920s. Plenty of restoration work has been ongoing since the neighborhood was named a National Treasure in 2016.