Headlines across Detroit talked about the $150 million the Kresge Foundation is committing to the Detroit Future City Project, which is the result of two years of work through the Detroit Works process.
That’s a huge commitment by an organization with a track record of supporting Detroit.
“Every dollar spent in Detroit” will be aligned with Detroit Future City, says Rip Rapson, CEO of the Kresge Foundation. This is in concert with $3 million from the Kresge and W.K. Kellogg Foundations to fund the implementation office.
In an ongoing series of posts, we will look at this very large document and discuss key points. There are 12 “Imperative Actions” of the plan … the things the framework views as important. These actions are then reinforced by 24 “transformative ideas,” each section of which will merit deeper inspection.
The reality is there are really huge challenges ahead. SEMCOG (Southeastern Michigan Council of Governments) projects the city population will fall to 610,000 people by 2030, and with 40% of Detroiters considering leaving, it could be even less. Fewer people means less resources and more challenges.
But what about Detroit 17 years from now? There are some of the “clear visions” that Detroit Future City uses as its basis for the goal for 2030.
A stabilized population
The focus here is “diverse and welcoming to all,” including those who never left, college graduates, seniors living in walkable areas, as well as encourage immigrant families. It also would be welcoming, under this vision, for those transitioning out of poverty. The reality is many families currently move to the suburbs when they make enough money. This vision document forecasts between 600,000 and 800,000 residents in Detroit in 2030. That’s a very, very large range and widely affects what you can actually do. Here’s some context as to why it might be such a wide estimate suggested.
If we look back, the drop in 2010 to 713,777 city residents wasn’t forecasted. SEMCOG was wildly inaccurate forecasting 908,000 city residents for 2010 in their 2002 forecast. The budget of the city would be much different if we had an extra almost 200,000 residents like was predicted. In short, the data can tell us what happened, but using it to tell us what will happen in the future can be difficult with so many factors at play.
A ratio of two or three jobs for each person living in the city
We’ll dig into this further later, but seven targeted “employment districts” are envisioned with a mix of industries and business sectors. These will encourage Detroit to be a business and industry hub and utilize the assets we already have (such as the international border crossing).
More housing options would be available – Detroit currently has a dearth of multi-unit housing (apartments, condos, mid and high rises), which are in high demand. Also, over the coming years, there would be more of a focus on “live + make” spaces as well as spaces with a connection with nature.
An integrated regional mass transit system, choosing bus rapid transit over light rail
This vision is more extensive than what the current Bus Rapid Transit/ M1 Rail we’re discussing today. The current plan map, outside of Woodward to Grand Boulevard, relies on solely Bus Rapid Transit (BRT) to cross the city and the lines would be focused serve the more dense neighborhoods and employment districts.
We’ve recolored the map provided to highlight the types of transit more clearly and so it’s clearer to see where the BRT lines could go. It’s also interesting to note the gray areas. They expect more density in the darker shaded areas and as low as 0-2 people per acre in the lighter areas.
This would be also tied with regular buses, mini buses and bikeable, walkable areas with “right size” boulevards for bikes, walking, mass transit, cars and landscaping.
Tied into this would be sustainable approaches to “using landscape for 21st century infrastructure” for things like “linear carbon forests to clean air” (i.e. trees along the road) and storm water management. In the document, there are significant areas of Detroit that expect to turn to “innovative ecological” and “productive ecological” zones. That latter one closely resembles the Hantz Woodlands area.
A city for all
The idea here is that there isn’t a “one type fits all” strategy for neighborhoods. Detroit for the past few decades have been predominately single-family homes connected realistically by only automotive transit. Residents would be given the option to “home-swap” (as well as other affordable housing programs) to more stable and dense neighborhoods, where there would be better services. No one would be forced to move from their homes, however, there definitely would be incentives to move.
There are shorter term goals
For today’s post, we talked about 2030. The vision contained in this 350-page Detroit Future City document is a new, healthier, safer, more prosperous and socially just city. It has an implementation team headed by the Detroit Economic Growth Corporation’s George Jackson for this is the framework along with $150 million in philanthropic dollars already behind it. It’d be wise to keep close tabs on where this is going.
In that spirit, what do you want to know most about for the future of Detroit?
If you want to peruse the document yourself, you can check it out here (PDF, 45mb).Download the complete Detroit Future City plan here (PDF)