Lions are on the prowl in West Village and looking for prey. The lions in question are the Detroit Lions and their prey won’t be eaten. Instead, they are tackling philanthropy with Hatch Detroit and helping improve existing storefronts on Agnes Street.
The initiative called Living for the City will focus $150,000 from the Lions on the retail strip. The goal is to promote a sense of both safety and friendliness for pedestrians. Hatch Detroit and the Detroit Lions found what parts were needed to promote retail success and safety by working with the Villages Community Development Corporation.
“The Lions partnership with Hatch Detroit and investment in the West Village furthers our commitment to Detroit’s resurgence and our focus on areas of critical need,” said Rob Wooley, Lions director of community relations. “Through this effort, the Lions will continue to make a stronger and more lasting impact on one of Detroit’s historic neighborhoods.”
This is the next project site in the Hatch Detroit Neighborhood Initiative, which is an extension of Living for the City, the Detroit Lions philanthropic program. The overall goal of the wide reaching plan is to improve Detroit by integrating physical fitness, healthy eating, housing, land use and environmental planning, public transportation, community infrastructure and aligned workforce opportunities.
The storefront on the corner of Agnes and Van Dyke will be getting an upgrade as part of the project. Included for the shop will be new windows, additional lighting and an improved entrance. The corner’s upgrade and the Villages CDC moving its office there, will hopefully ad leverage for further investments. The Villages CDC will also be offering programs to bring and market new business to the area.
“We hope to add pop-up and small business incubation to the activity already generated to further market the neighborhood. With the influx of safety and pedestrian friendliness being offered by Hatch Detroit and the Detroit Lions, we know the neighborhood will be a destination for a resident or visitor.” says Brian Hurttienne, executive director of the Villages CDC.
When people come to the area their eyes will see the transformation … even at night. New lighting will be put in for the parking that sits behind the strip, and the gas lighting along the Agnes strip will be repaired.
Since such areas live and die by foot traffic pedestrian-scale signs will be created and installed. Among the businesses will be Craftwork bar and restaurant, Red Hook coffee shop, Tarot & Tea, and Detroit Vegan Soul – one of the Hatch Detroit contest alums.
Keeping the flow of pedestrians running will also fall upon the new bike racks. These racks are not just the usual places to lock up a bike. They are designed by the Nordin Brothers and draw inspiration from Belle Isle Bridge. The bike racks will be placed outside of all the businesses. All the projects are scheduled to be completed by September 2014.
Living for the City will target six other neighborhoods beside the West Village. The North End, Corktown, Southwest Detroit, the Avenue of Fashion and Grandmont Rosedale are also waiting in the wings. The Avenue of Fashion has already had a district-wide clean up and beautification along with the pedestrian-signage, which was installed for five businesses around Livernois and the Outer Drive. This marked the end of Phase I for the area.
“We see the redevelopment of these commercial strips as critical to the revitalization of the entire region,” says Vittoria Katanski, executive director of Hatch Detroit. “Our work aims to assist entrepreneurs who are already contributing to their communities and their neighborhoods’ growth.”
West Village is situated in the heart of the Villages. Its boundaries are Kercheval, Parker, East Jefferson and Seyburn. It is a designated historic district and is the eastern gateway to the Detroit Riverwalk and Belle Isle. It’s a mixed-housing community with residential apartments and single and multiple family homes. It is home to diverse group of urbanites from artists and professionals to young families and empty-nesters.