Jackie Berg, The WEIGH/Neighborhood News Hub
Comfortable in its own city skin, Brightmoor is emerging from the shadows of its well-heeled neighbors, ready to throw open its doors to those who come knocking.
Once overlooked, the community, perched on the edge of northwest Detroit, finds itself at the center of attention among a growing group of investors interested in its economic potential.
It’s “game on,” says Errol Service, chairman of the African Caribbean Chamber of Commerce and multiunit McDonald’s owner/operator known for his philanthropic efforts to bridge the divide between the economic “haves” and “have nots.”
Color blind and unencumbered by any economic interests in the area, Service is heading a growing group of multicultural investors and organizations interested in creating a cultural kaleidoscope in a community that already has a unique character of its own.
“Brightmoor has something that many Detroit neighborhoods lack,” says Service. “And that’s contiguous land available for development and an ‘it’ factor.”
What is “it”?
Brightmoor’s complexity is raw, real and bursting with energy, says Service and other interested parties, who collectively operate under the International Community Development of Brightmoor (IDCB) banner.
“Brightmoor has not (been), is (not), nor never will be a cookie-cutter community,” Service says.
“Its residents, business owners and community organizations have a fiery spirit and can-do attitude. They embrace positive change, regardless who brings it. And that’s the kind of attitude required to attract immigrants and investors,” he says.
Available housing stock for under $10,000 does not hurt, either.
Detroit needs to resist cloning itself, according to Service, who would like to see Brightmoor utilize its open landscape to create something out-of-the-ordinary and unlikely to be replicated.
“If we do it right, visitors will come here to escape the everyday experience of look-alike shopping centers, clubs and restaurants,” he says.
With Service’s support and vision, Brightmoor is destined to become a desirable address to call home and an outstanding place to do business, says Reggie (Reg) Davis, deputy manager of the Department of Neighborhoods, District One.
“Repopulating Detroit’s neighborhoods is imperative,” he says who is working hard to fulfill the mandate of his boss, Mayor Mike Duggan, to do it ─ and do it fast.
“It will require bold thinking and leadership,” Davis says, who is grateful for Service’s stewardship.
“Errol’s position on the African Caribbean Chamber allows us to connect directly with government leaders from nearly every area of the great continent of Africa and the British and American Virgin Islands. With his support, we hope to create a direct pipeline from the various African countries and West Indies Island nations in an effort to repopulate Brightmoor,” he says.
The new Brightmoor will represent a marriage of cultures, according to Raquel Garcia Anderson, the IDCB secretary and director of Partnerships and Community Outreach at Global Detroit, a non-profit organization committed to fostering immigration, foreign trade and investment as a means to produce jobs and regional economic growth.
“Once immigrants begin to settle and invest in Brightmoor, they will begin to attract additional community members and the kind of cultural vitality and economic energy that newcomers bring,” she says.
“The best of the old and the energy of the new is what will power Brightmoor’s resurgence,” says Moses Lukwago, a marketing technology instructor at Oakland Schools, who is bullish on new investment and job opportunities that the IDCB is working to bring.
Acting in concert, the committee is confident in its ability to interweave community resources and connections to build something better together.
Having the support of Service, one of the nation’s most successful businessmen, behind the effort surely can’t hurt.
– This blog originally appeared in a new publication, The WEIGH/Neighborhood News Hub. Detroit Unspun is a partner in that venture.