Detroit Future City Hosts a Gallery Exhibition of Globally Significant Industrial Adaptive Reuse Precedents From Europe

Detroit Opportunity Sites: Detroit Future City Hosts a Gallery Exhibition of Globally Significant Industrial Adaptive Reuse Precedents from Europe.

On February 25, the Detroit Future City (DFC) Implementation Office partnered with the German Marshall Fund (GMF) of the United States to host a trans-Atlantic exchange of ideas, economies, and dedication in order to identify opportunities to transform Detroit’s portfolio of vacant industrial land and buildings into locally and globally significant assets.

In Detroit, vacant industrial land and buildings cover 6.1 square miles of the city. This land has the potential to unlock a host of social, economic and environmental opportunities. The reuse of these large-scale, vacant sites is a complex challenge, requiring time, resource, and a network of supporting actors. Detroit Opportunity Sites explores key aspects of these redevelopment hindrances and prospects through a select number of successful European and U.S. case studies.

The DFC Implementation Office collaborated with GMF to identify the challenges and opportunities of redeveloping large-scale industrial vacant properties in Detroit. The organizations’ collective ability to describe and implement an inclusive, equitable and dynamic set of futures for these sites is essential to Detroit’s long-term viability.

This initiative supports the implementation of the DFC Strategic Framework, which sets out a planning vision for Detroit in areas such as neighborhoods, city systems, civic engagement, and importantly, how to take advantage of the city’s existing land and building assets.

Support for Detroit Opportunity Sites is generously provided by The Kresge Foundation.

Here are some images from the event.

Detroit Opportunity Sites

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In the Media

February development news round-up: Breweries, apartments, vacant lots, and more

It’s been another busy month for development news in the city. Let’s catch up on some of the biggest stories from the past four weeks.

Granite City opened its latest restaurant and brewery location in the Renaissance Center earlier this month. It’s the largest location for the chain eatery and on-site brewery, which first opened in St. Cloud, Minnesota in 1999.

Financing for the Scott, a 199-unit apartment building in the Brush Park neighborhood, was finalized earlier this month. Two weeks after, the Scott announced that pre-leasing had begun. The building is set to open in the beginning of 2017.

In October 2015, Detroit Future City released a guidebook to help residents steward vacant lots in their neighborhood.

Click here to read the full article in Model D.
MJ Galbraith February 23, 2016, Model D

In the Media

Filling Vacant Lots With Neighbourhood Projects

Given the high value of real estate in Toronto these days, it might seem ludicrous to abandon property. But, within the city and beyond its borders, it can be a common occurrence.

This phenomenon has been especially visible in Detroit. In fact, we’ve written in this space before about the city’s plague of abandoned property.

There, it was enough of a problem that the White House commissioned a special Detroit Blight Removal Task Force in 2013 to help the Motor City deal with its disused land.

Obama’s people partnered with local property tracker Loveland Technologies, and in the winter of 2013-14, they ran a survey of Detroit that found 50,000 properties—about 13 per cent of all Detroit’s properties— were abandoned. Another 10,000 were deemed likely unoccupied.

Loveland’s interactive, crowdsourced map of properties around the city shows the abandonment numbers have stayed fairly stagnant in the intervening years.

But now the Detroit Future City (DFC) Implementation Office is writing cheques to people with plans to fill some of Motown’s vacant lots.

Click here to read the full article in the Torontoist.
Peter Goffin, February 16, 2016, Torontoist

In the Media

New zoning in Midtown would emphasize walkability

The strip mall may become an endangered species in big parts of Detroit’s Midtown, as boosters of the hot neighborhood push for a future that would frown on parking lots and aim for a continuous “street wall” of buildings.

To achieve that goal, they want a new kind of city zoning to apply to a large swath of Midtown. It would virtually ban future single-story shops with a parking lot — the basic strip mall.

If it works there, other Detroit neighborhoods may get this new zoning, which was created in 2014. It’s another sign that some in the Motor City want to drive less and walk more.

“Strip malls are totally against urban forms of creating density and it doesn’t promote walkability,” said Susan Mosey, executive director of Midtown Detroit Inc. That’s the nonprofit shaping much of the development in the booming area north of downtown, where restaurants, trendy shops and condos have taken root in the past few years.

Midtown Inc. has been lobbying for this new zoning for more than a year now and so far, it’s faced little resistance. The City Council could decide on the new zoning as soon as this month.

“What we want is continuous street wall,” Mosey said. That essentially means streets where the buildings touch each other, with shops or offices on the street levels and possibly housing units above.

The new zoning is selective in other ways, too. Besides essentially banning the strip mall — lots of extra red tape would be required to build new ones — it also excludes many other things like domestic abuse shelters, pool halls, substance abuse centers, tattoo parlors and soup kitchens. Even such things as drive-thru windows for banks or fast food restaurants would have to go through extra bureaucratic hoops to get built.

In most of Midtown, future housing would come in the form of multistory apartments and condominiums. And there would be far fewer parking lots.

“We would have a lot more parking decks” if the new zoning is adopted, Mosey said.

She emphasizes the new zoning doesn’t apply to all of Midtown, and that things such as domestic abuse shelters and soup kitchens could be built in other sections of the neighborhood.

But the new zoning does cover a big part of the area — basically from Woodward to the east and the Lodge Freeway to the west, Hancock to the north and Charlotte to the south. Not every street and not every building will be covered in the zoning change.

The new zoning could change the look of many streets, especially in the Cass Corridor. Bill’s Recreation is an old-school pool hall on Third Avenue near Martin Luther King Boulevard. It’s the part of Midtown where many people still hang out on the street, especially around the Neighborhood Street Organization and the Detroit Rescue Mission, which both serve the indigent.

Neither the pool hall nor the nonprofits would have to move — the new zoning would apply only to future development.

Still, pool hall owner Tony Bean says the zoning probably means “we may or may not be part of the future.”

Bean started hanging out in the pool hall more than 40 years ago as a teenager. He bought the business from the original owner.

“Big change is always happening now,” he said. “I don’t know if we’re part of the change or not.”

The new zoning has been applied to small parts of the city, including parts of Woodbridge and Corktown. But this is the first time it could be applied to a much larger area.

Dara O’Byrne, deputy director of Land Use and Policy for Detroit Future City, helped craft the new zoning when she worked in city’s planning department, where she was a Detroit Revitalization Fellow.

Click here to read the full article in The Detroit News.

In the Media

Vacant Lots Get New Life with Detroit Future City Mini-Grants

If you’ve wondered what an empty lot in your neighborhood could be used for, there could be a group of like-minded citizens planning a youth program or a gathering space on that very spot.

Fifteen grassroots organizations from around Detroit received a share of $65,000 in mini-grants from Detroit Future City (DFC) to transform vacant lots. This is part of DFC’s Field Guide to Working with Lots, designed to provide actionable guidance for reinvigorating empty lots in neighborhoods.

Click here to read the full article in Curbed Detroit.


2016 Field Guide Mini Grant Winners

The Detroit Future City (DFC) Field Guide to Working with Lots is a tool that provides step-by-step instruction to support Detroiters in transforming vacant land in order to create cleaner, safer and more attractive neighborhoods.

The Detroit Future City (DFC) Implementation Office developed the Field Guide mini grant program to encourage Detroit residents, community groups and businesses to utilize the Field Guide to implement land stewardship activities in Detroit’s neighborhoods.

Out of 31 applicants, 15 were selected to receive a share of $65,000 in mini grants to implement lot designs from the DFC Field Guide to Working with Lots. Each mini grant winner has been awarded $3,500 to implement their lot design, with the remaining funds earmarked for further financial support after undergoing technical assistance sessions with the DFC Implementation Office.

The Field Guide mini grant program funds a diverse range of lot designs across the city, including:

DFC Lot Design Coming Soon

360 Detroit, Inc, planning to implement the Rear Parking Partner lot design on the West Side of Detroit

360 Detroit, Inc, planning to implement the Rear Parking Partner lot design on the West Side of Detroit
360 Detroit plans to implement a lot design that would provide off street parking with paved parking pad that allows water to infiltrate the ground, instead of running quickly off into Detroit’s streets and sewerage system.

Scott Street Farm LLC, planning to implement the Friendly Fence lot design on the East Side of Detroit.
Located close to The Boggs School and the University Prep Science and Math, Scott Street Farm envisions applying a DFC lot design in their community that will be beneficial for windbreaks. They will use the implementation process as an educational youth engagement project.

Bounce Back Detroit, planning to implement the 8 Mile Rain Garden with Dumping Preventer lot design in the HOPE Village Community on the West Side of Detroit 
With community ties stemming back nearly 50 years, Bounce Back Detroit plans on implementing a lot design that inspires young people to embrace the idea of creating a resilient community that counters the narrative of blight.

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North Rosedale Civic Association, planning to implement the Native Butterfly Meadow lot design on the West Side of Detroit

North Rosedale Civic Association, planning to implement the Native Butterfly Meadow lot design on the West Side of Detroit
North Rosedale Civic Association (NRCA) is planning to use their funds to implement a design that would enable them to install a Native Butterfly Meadow that will soak up rainwater runoff and improve the quality of life for North Rosedale residents.

Jacqueline Perkins, planning to implement the Paisley Patch lot design on the East Side of Detroit
Detroit resident Jacqueline Perkins will implement a lot design that will provide a fragrant, family friendly social space for neighbors to memorialize and honor veterans. Perkins hopes to help stabilize her community by adding a charm on the block.

Detroit Film Fatales, planning to implement the Mounds of Fun lot design in the Corktown Community
Detroit Film Fatales plans to create organic seating places for attendees to sit comfortably during their monthly movie screenings. They hope to implement a lot design that will mimic amphitheater seating and to inspire Detroiters to consider improving vacant lots in their community in a similar fashion.


A Letter from Anika Goss-Foster, Executive Director of Detroit Future City 

My first month on the ground at the Detroit Future City (DFC) Implementation Office as its new Executive Director has been both inspiring and motivating. As a third generation Detroiter and having worked in the community development sector locally and nationally, I have maintained a great deal of respect for the forward-thinking DFC Strategic Framework.

What’s become even more apparent in the last month is the immense expertise and innovation possessed by the team that comprise the DFC Implementation Office. The transformative work they are stewarding to bring the Framework to life is evident.

The impactful actions that are driving this work for the last couple of years have been incubated in the DFC Implementation Office and hatched throughout the city in a variety of ways. The office works to cultivate a coalition of multi-sector stakeholders, from civic to community, that have distinct and different interests using the Framework as a guide.

This process is not a sprint. It’s a marathon. And, the work we are introducing in the next few months illustrates how the DFC Implementation Office, and the Framework we help steward, can provide thoughtful and informed strategic recommendations to help achieve a sustainable Detroit and a better quality of life for Detroiters.