Ten vacant lots are being transformed in Detroit’s Cody Rouge community into more viable, usable space thanks to a public, private and non-profit partnership. The Greening of Detroit, The Detroit Water and Sewerage Department (DWSD) and the Southeast Michigan Council of Governments (SEMCOG) are partnering to model a neighborhood initiative of greener and healthier public spaces in the city.
At each of the sites, a particular treatment (green infrastructure approach) was chosen and implemented, based on storm water management capabilities, appearance and upkeep requirements. Other Green infrastructure goals for the project include a reduction in street flooding following severe storms, general appearance improvements in the impacted neighborhood and the ecological benefits of improving the urban ecosystem.
The last of the 10 lots, located at 8601 Brace St. in the city, was treated with green infrastructure on June 6. Trees were planted on the site by neighborhood volunteers, creating a low-maintenance space that instantly becomes an asset, instead of an eyesore.
The sites and treatment plans were chosen by Cody Rouge residents, which engaged them in the collaborative process. Through several meetings, the community ultimately voted on the options of: a low-grow prairie grass, perennial wildflower mix, a rye grass and wildflower combination or tree planting for each site.
“We believe in increasing green infrastructure in the city,” said Sue McCormick, a director at DWSD. “Green projects help divert runoff from going into the combined sewer system and that could reduce costs that are passed on to our customers. The project in the Cody Rouge neighborhood is one of the first steps in a multi-year greening program at DWSD.”
“Our plan is to do 125 more of these sites this year,” said Rebecca Salminen Witt, president of The Greening of Detroit. “When houses go vacant or come down in the city, we really have a clean slate to start with. This kind of project increases the property values and gives the neighborhood a chance to reclaim an otherwise blighted location in the community.”
Residents and community partners are excited about the pilot project and the potential for the impact across the metro area. Detroit Future City Director Dan Kinkead says this vacant lot project fits right into their vision for a better Detroit. “This effort demonstrates how small community projects can have a huge impact on the city. Turning a liability into an asset helps everyone.”
Kenyetta Campbell, executive director of Cody Rouge Community Action Alliance passionately explained what a partnership like this means for the area. “As an organization, we have a mission of keeping Cody Rouge clean and safe. Our hope is that this will encourage people to begin to move back into the neighborhood.” Campbell grew up in the area and has lived there for more than 40 years.
The 10 site locations:
- 8018 Ashton Low Grow Prairie
- 8898 Ashton Low Grow Prairie
- 8883 Ashton Trees
- 9046 Ashton Low Grow Prairie
- 9223 Ashton Low Grow Prairie
- 8601 Brace Trees
- 8412 Brace Trees
- 8247 Grandville Low Grow Prairie
- 9048 Minock Perennial Wildflower Mix
- 8114 Westwood Rye and Wildflower Mix