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Detroit’s parks and streets clean, green thanks to Business Improvement Zone



There are some things we take for granted now as Detroit continues its resurgence. One of those is safe, clean and green streets and parks with beautiful trees, plants and flowers.

It’s not a miracle grow kind of thing.

All that greenery comes to us thanks to the Downtown Detroit Business Improvement Zone (BIZ) created by the Downtown Detroit Partnership (DDP). The BIZ contributes to four downtown parks maintained by the DDP, medians in key corridors, sidewalk planters and highway entrances. In the near future, it plans to expand beautification services to include more streets, sidewalks and medians.

Here are the parks that get extra attention:

  • Campus Martius Park
  • Grand Circus Park
  • Capitol Park
  • Paradise Valley

In addition, beautification services are provided on Woodward, Jefferson, Washington, Broadway, Madison, Gratiot, Lafayette and Beaubien.


The BIZ is a little more than a year old. Last April, the Detroit City Council and property owners downtown approved the program, which is expected to bring in $4 million to pay for street cleaning, landscaping and other services.

Just so you know where the money comes from, the BIZ requires property owners to pay a tax that is a blend of property values and square footage, which roughly comes out to about 10 cents per square foot. Non-profit organizations, churches and other typical tax-exempt properties and owner-occupied residences are not included. To be clear, no individual taxpayer money is involved and the BIZ is in addition to the city services.

(DDP Ambassador Rollout from Stephen McGee Films on Vimeo.)

About $1.8 million of the $4 million funds the Downtown Clean Ambassador program, which launched this week. It is managed by Block by Block of Louisville, Ky.

The program is the successor to the Clean Downtown initiative, which the DDP had voluntarily funded to the tune of $16.5 million since it was created in 2005. The money came from a few Detroit businesses and Goodwill Industries of Greater Detroit staffed the program. Under the new ambassador program, about half of the 40 ambassadors will be veterans of the Goodwill program. An ambassador will clean, provide information to visitors and residents and report crime or suspicious activity to the police.

So next time you see a Detroit business owner, someone for the DDP or BIZ or an ambassador, say thank you for the keeping our city clean and green.

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