New development in Detroit is a boost for the arts

Posted at 5:43 PM, Oct 18, 2020
and last updated 2020-10-18 17:43:54-04

DETROIT (WXYZ) — After two decades of sitting empty, two vacant lots adjacent to Detroit’s Clark Park are coming to life at the corner of Bagley Street and Scotten Avenue.

For the first time in decades, these vacant lots on the corner of Bagley and Scotten near Vernor have hope for a future filled with purpose, and it’s needed more now than ever.

“Some of the conversation right now on the city level is, how do you activate during COVID? People still want to go out and have fun. For a business, you still want to get to your clients,” say Michael Reyes co-founder and director of the non-profit We Are Culture Creators nearly 10 years ago. He produces and curates artisan driven community events and runs a youth education program for business and music.

With a grant from the Michigan Economic Development Corporation, funding from patronicity and a successful fundraising campaign, a new vision is coming to life. La Esquina.

“A mini market and cultural enclave, that is really a space for the community to come together and share music art and culture,” said Reyes.

The empty lots will be transformed into a convertible community event space and market with a stage, seating, tables, space for food trucks and built in grills, vendor tents and more.

“Artisans and musicians can set up to sell their music, their books, clothing, anything they may have as creative to offer to the community,” said Reyes.

It will also be a safe space for his youth in his programs to experiment, create and grow.

“It’s a great space just to be in and you normally don't see this in areas like where I grew up,” said recent college graduate and poet Andre Reed.

He is already planning to use the space, once it is finished, to host an outdoor book fair connecting local authors with local readers and aspiring writers.

“Showing people how to self publish, and other options to publish your work. So they (authors) can not only support themselves, but also help others grow,” said Reed.

The Esquina Mini Market and Cultural Enclave will be a one of a kind development.

“It’s run and created by people from this area, I think that’s the important part of the story,” said Reyes.

Since most performance spaces and markets are indoors, the Esquina will provide a safe place for the community and creative entrepreneurs to connect and thrive.

“Especially during COVID, how important outdoor space is going into 2021,” said Reyes.

They are always looking for volunteers and funding for programs.