Many refer to Detroit’s gilded history as something to aspire to … something to bring back. Others think this is a “new Detroit” that will never be the same.
The Detroit Works Project’s goal is to do both.
The Hub tagged along as Mayor Dave Bing and other Detroit leaders toured the Livernois Avenue of Fashion, one of three “demonstration areas” for the Detroit Works Project. “Through new investment and community cooperation, they’re looking to bring the area back to the Avenue of Fashion we all remember,” says Kim Tandy, program manager for the University Commons Organization, which is committed to improving the physical and economic character of the Livernois/McNichols corridors.
Starting at University of Detroit, it was a whirlwind sampling of one of the most interesting … and in many cases polar opposite … areas of Detroit. Tucked behind much of this area of Livernois from 6 to 8 Mile are beautiful, mansion-like homes in neighborhoods like Sherwood Forest. In many cases they back up to rundown neighborhoods that need serious improvement. It’s an area the Detroit Works Project decided to focus on because there’s a lot of potential and research showed the income of the area directly surrounding it could support more than what is currently there.
“From 6 Mile to 8 Mile in this Livernois corridor we think we’re going be able to bring it back with our two anchor institutions (Marygrove College and University of Detroit Mercy),” Bing said. “A lot of the businesses have started to expand and more businesses are starting to come in so this is going to be a hot spot again.”
Our travels had us breaking off from the tour and let us dive into some of the businesses. We checked out the Detroit-themed style of the Flagship Boutique. We talked to excited construction workers at the new True Value, which is slated to be open in October. We chatted with people with smiling faces at Noni’s Sherwood Grill, which has been around for a quarter century. Many of them worked there for 10, 20 years … unheard of in this day and age. Our conversations told us people here are committed to revitalization. We’re going to profile some of them in depth in later blogs.
Between groups like Detroit Economic Growth Corporation, the City of Detroit, University of Detroit Mercy and Marygrove College as well as key local organizations, millions are being poured into the area for projects large and small.
There has been funding provided for facade improvements that have occurred or are in process. There is a comprehensive streetscaping plan (we’ve included some renderings) that includes LED lights with a classic “Washington” look as well as trees in the median and much more. The study will happen this year thanks to a grant from the Kresge Foundation. The streetscaping will occur contingent on funds, but probably next year.
To help deal with the storefronts that aren’t filled yet, the University Commons Organization is spearheading a “board up” and street gallery program that will make the inactive storefronts much more pleasing through a $5,000 grant (it’s amazing what a small amount of money can do). It’s also partnering with the College for Creative Studies for upcoming art installations.
Some of the development highlights:
- University of Detroit Mercy: New 40,000 square foot fitness center.
- Marygrove College: ONE (Our Neighborhood Engaged) Demonstration Block project is focusing on turning around a four block area on McNichols between Roselawn and Wisconsin streets. This will include cleaning, boarding of vacant buildings, arts and landscaping.
- Bell Building: Ice cream shop, coffee shop and restaurant proposed. Total project cost of $176,000.
- Pied Piper Market: improved signage and parking with matching facade grant of $30,000 and a $50,000 grant from UCO and Detroit’s Planning and Development Department.
- Newly opened Flagship Boutique.
- Noni’s Sherwood Grill was a $600,000 project with a complete tear down and rebuild of the restaurant. Had a matching facade grant of $70,000 from Community Development Block Grant sources.
- True Value Hardware totals $785,000 in business investment and project cost.
Stop on by.
DETROIT AVENUE OF FASHION PHOTO GALLERY:
Photos By Ashley Hennen