E-Newsletter

DFC Special Report: Vacant Industrial Properties – An Opportunity for Innovative Adaptive Reuse

A Detroit Future City (DFC) Implementation Office Special Report:  Vacant Industrial Properties Require Innovative Reuse

Certain areas once appropriate for industrial use should be reassessed and transitioned to land uses more beneficial to Detroit communities.

Detroit has hundreds of vacant industrial sites that are not likely to be returned to industrial use. A DFC Implementation Office assessment indicates that there are almost 900 vacant industrial buildings spread across the city[1].

Many of these buildings abut residential neighborhoods in some of the city’s most disadvantaged areas.  Without a strategic approach to repurposing these properties, they will remain fallow for years to come, posing threats to public health and safety, and undermining Detroit’s recovery.

There of course remain traditional opportunities for redevelopment. One example of a recent success was the ground breaking for automotive parts manufacturer Flex-N-Gate’s 350,000-square-foot, $95-million-dollar plant on 30-acres of vacant land on Detroit’s east side. The new facility will generate up to 750 new jobs, 51 percent of which are guaranteed to go to city residents.

Large-scale, industrial development projects like the one being developed by Flex-N-Gate are important to the city’s revitalization, but such shovel-ready projects aren’t ample enough to redevelop large swaths of the city.

That’s why the Detroit Future City Strategic Framework advocates for innovative, adaptive reuse of some of the city’s vacant industrial sites. The goal: to put these properties back into productive use; economic, creative, and ecological reinvention for the benefit of Detroit residents and communities, and the preservation of some of the city’s history.

In the report, the Detroit Future City (DFC) Implementation Office examines the opportunity to transform vacant industrial buildings and sites in the city into viable alternatives, including not only commercial, residential, and recreational uses, but food production, energy generation, and green infrastructure as well. This report also outlines key challenges vacant industrial sites pose for redevelopment and offers up creative solutions.

Click here to read the full report.

In the Media

To Make Cities More Sustainable, Let Go of Tradition

Urban Studies Theorist Richard Florida interviews Gabriel Metcalf, president and CEO of SPUR, regarding his book, Democratic by Design, which talks about the importance of making “better use of alternative institutions like cooperatives and community land trusts to help build more sustainable, socially responsible, and prosperous communities.”

To Make Cities More Sustainable, Let Go of Tradition
By: Richard Florida
Dec 10, 2015
CITYLAB
LINK


“Things aren’t right in America today”: In his important new book on social innovation, Gabriel Metcalf—executive director of the urban policy think tank SPUR (San Francisco Planning and Urban Research Association) and a CityLab contributor—opens with this all-too-familiar sentiment. Rising inequality, deepening segregation, and increasingly unaffordable housing are just a few of the many problems currently plaguing the U.S. These issues are no more evident than in America’s dense, large urban communities, which boast some of the greatest technology and innovation in the world, but also some of the harshest economic and class divides.

To make things right, Metcalf argues in Democratic by Design, we need to make more and better use of alternative institutions like cooperatives and community land trusts to help build more sustainable, socially responsible, and prosperous communities. Drawing from his experience as an urbanist and one of the founders of the car-sharing movement in North America, Metcalf documents how a range of alternative institutions—which operate outside of traditional government agencies and differ from traditional companies—can help U.S. cities tackle some of the major issues they face today.

To delve deeper into this, I put a series of questions to Metcalf about exactly how he sees these alternative institutions helping to build better and more sustainable cities in the future.

Click here to read the full article on CITYLAB.com.

In the Media

Detroit’s Tax Foreclosure Crisis

Wayne County Treasurer Eric Sabree and Detroit Free Press Editorial Page Editor Stephen Henderson talk about Detroit’s tax foreclosure crisis, in which thousands of people lose their homes each year due to unpaid back taxes. Sabree and Henderson spoke on WDET 101.9FM’s Detroit Today show earlier this month.

How’s Detroit’s Housing Landscape Doing?
By: Stephen Henderson
WDET 101.9FM’s Detroit Today
June 12, 2017
LINK


There are plenty of questions about how Detroit is doing with housing in 2017. Are people paying their property taxes? How are the thousands of tax foreclosures at the county level affecting the city’s efforts? How is the city doing at reducing blight — are the home demolitions keeping up with newly abandoned or foreclosed houses?

As part of WDET’s work with the Detroit Journalism Cooperative, Detroit Today Host Stephen Henderson discusses the issue from a city and county level.

Wayne County Treasurer, Eric Sabree, talks with Henderson about the county’s response to housing foreclosures.

“Wayne county is unfortunately the leading entity dealing with this problem,” says Sabree, “because of the fact that the foreclosures are so severe… This discussion really can’t be a complete discussion unless we’re talking about education, job training, and jobs… It’s a poverty issue.”

Sabree also discusses strategies the county and city have implemented to inform residents of their options to avoid foreclosure as well as potential alternatives to the current auction system.

Click here to listen to the full interview on WDET. 

In the Media

Changing how philanthropy works in Detroit

President and CEO of The Kresge Foundation Rip Rapson was one of a select few named “Change Makers” by Crain’s Detroit Business earlier this month. As Crain’s points out, the Troy-based foundation has served as a “convener on important issues and helped bring private investment back to Detroit by taking the first risk.” 

Changing how philanthropy works in Detroit
By: Sherri Welch
Crain’s Detroit Business
June 1, 2017
LINK


Home mortgages in Detroit are up 25 percent across the city. The QLine has spurred $1.3 billion in economic development in downtown alone.

Both are examples of the wide-ranging work the Kresge Foundation has done to show the world Detroit is on the way back — and of how Rapson is changing philanthropy in Detroit.

In the decade since Rip Rapson joined the Kresge Foundation, he’s taken its work well beyond grants. The Kresge Foundation has served as a convener on important issues and helped bring private investment back to Detroit by taking the first risk.

He and the Troy-based foundation have played a role in “table-setting” — helping to convene community conversations around important topics like the one that led to the Detroit Future City plan, a 50-year blueprint for revitalizing the city and neighborhoods in Detroit, released in 2013.

Click here to read the full article.

In the Media

Detroit Future City’s Anika Goss Foster On City’s Turnaround, Mackinac

Anika Goss-Foster, Detroit Future City’s (DFC) executive director, sat down with Stephen Henderson from WDET-FM’s Detroit Today to talk about innovative ways of re-purposing hundreds of abandoned industrial sites to put them back into productive use at the 2017 Mackinac Policy Conference. The Mackinac Policy Conference brings together business, civic, and government leaders to discuss innovative ways of re-energizing Michigan.

Detroit Future City’s Anika Goss Foster On City’s Turnaround, Mackinac Policy Conference
By: Stephen Henderson
May 31, 2017
LINK


Detroit Future City is a model by which the city could be re-imagined, where and how to concentrate resources and investment to make the city livable and attractive for new residents.

But that also means there are pockets and places in Detroit that would receive less attention, and that’s a problem the city is already combating with vacant buildings and neighborhood blocks.

What becomes of the many vacant sites, especially industrial sites that take up a lot of room and create a lot of blight?

Detroit Future City is focusing this week on the future of those industrial sites, while at the Mackinac Policy Conference.

Anika Goss Foster joins Detroit Today host Stephen Henderson to talk about DFC’s vision for the city.

Click here for the full interview.

In the Media

Next for Detroit? Find uses for 900 vacant manufacturing sites

Award-winning reporter John Gallagher of The Detroit Free Press examines our latest special report, on the need to creatively re-purpose hundreds of vacant industrial sites in the city of Detroit.

Next for Detroit? Find uses for 900 vacant manufacturing sites
By: John Gallagher
May 28, 2017
LINK


Detroit, once the industrial powerhouse of the world, now bears the burden of hundreds of vacant industrial sites.

What to do about those sites is the focus of the latest special report from the Detroit Future City Implementation Office, to be released this week.

The numbers alone can stagger: Detroit contains nearly 900 vacant and mostly abandoned manufacturing sites. They include behemoths such as the old Packard Plant, now in line for a multi-year, multi-million-dollar remake. But more than two-thirds of the vacant factory sites measure less than 10,000 square feet — small tool-and-die shops mostly scattered through the city’s neighborhoods.

Click here to read the full article in The Detroit Free Press.

In the Media

Detroit Future City Vacant Industrial Properties Report

Anika Goss-Foster, Detroit Future City’s (DFC) executive director, sat down with Christy McDonald from PBS Detroit’s MiWeek to talk about the need to transform hundreds of vacant industrial sites in the city into viable alternative uses at the 2017 Mackinac Policy Conference. The Mackinac Policy Conference brings together top business, civic, and government leaders to discuss innovative ways of re-energizing Michigan.

Detroit Future City Vacant Industrial Properties Report
By: Christy McDonald
Detroit Public Television
May 31, 2017
LINK


In the Media

900 vacant industrial sites in Detroit seem ‘like a crisis’

Paula Gardner of MLive Media Group examines our latest special report on vacant industrial properties, which highlights the need to transform Detroit’s hundreds of former industrial sites into viable alternative uses:

900 vacant industrial sites in Detroit seem ‘like a crisis’
By: Paula Gardner
May 31, 2017
MLive
LINK


Detroit’s revitalization fills headlines and plans to address its vacant housing stock.

But another real estate crisis looms for the city: 900 vacant industrial sites.

These properties – most obsolete – are scattered across neighborhoods, according to a new report by Detroit Future City prepared ahead of the Mackinac Policy Conference.

“(These) are not in industrial parks, or places that are more optimum for industrial use,” said Anika Goss-Foster, executive director of Detroit Future City, in an interview.

She continued: “They’re everywhere.”

The concern, she said, is that no plan exists for these buildings, whether demolition or repurposing. While residential and commercial development is driving tremendous change in the city, these properties create a large void in value and potential.

“Without a strategic approach to repurposing these properties, they will remain fallow for years to come, posing threats to public health and safety, and undermining Detroit’s recovery,” the report says.

One famous example of one of these properties is the former Packard Plant, where renovations began in May to renovate a portion of the 3.5-million-square-foot site near the General Motors Hamtramck plant on the near east side.

But that building is far different from the typical vacant industrial property in Detroit, Goss-Foster said.

Its size distinguishes it, while 2/3 of the rest of the vacant industrial property is under 100,000 square feet.

Click here to read the full article on MLive.com.

Field Guide E-newsletter

May 2017 Field Guide E-newsletter: Helpful Tips For Preparing Your Garden

Spring is finally here! Now that the gardening season is in full swing, it is the perfect time to dust off your DFC Field Guide to Working with Lots and begin your lot transformation. Before the hot, dry months of summer, it is important to get your trees, shrubs, and perennials planted to ensure your plants will be able to establish themselves and survive subsequent seasons. 

In our last e-newsletter, we detailed how to prepare your gardens for planting.  If you’re looking to display your talent as a gardener extraordinaire, this edition includes a few helpful tips to design the ultimate perennial garden. Provided to you by the Michigan State University Department of Horticulture (MSUDH) and the University of Minnesota, following these five steps can help you execute a beautiful plan.

READ FULL E-NEWSLETTER HERE

In the Media

Whats Behind Detroit’s Small Business Disparity?

Anika Goss-Foster, Detroit Future City’s (DFC) executive director, shares her insight on the challenges facing minority business owners in Detroit and other cities across the country. She speaks about the importance of developing innovative and inclusive ways to address Detroit’s troubled economic climate.

Whats Behind Detroit’s Small Business Disparity?
Created by: J P Morgan Chase
May 11, 2017
LINK


In Detroit, there are more than 40,000 Black-owned businesses. You might think that the sheer volume of minority-owned companies would help create a thriving business climate for Black entrepreneurs, but when you take a closer look at the data, a different kind of story emerges. Only 1 in 30 African-American-owned companies in Detroit has more than one employee, compared with 1 in 3 white-owned businesses.

“The numbers are still too low, and the equity gap is still too wide,” says Anika Goss-Foster, executive director of Detroit Future City (DFC). The issue, however, is not cut and dried. Michael Rafferty, vice president of small-business development at the Detroit Economic Growth Corp., says that class, as much as race, accounts for the disparity.

Click here to read the full article.