Urban Neighborhood Initiatives

The Clean and Green treatment will enrich the soil and create an open space for future development.


$2,500 to $5,500


Volunteer + Professional








Part Sun

Urban Neighborhood Initiatives installed the Clean and Green lot design with the aim of improving the soil beneath the surface. The project served as a baseline which has established a foundation for future revitalizing projects. 
Lot Type
Special Lot Condition
Project Name
Chahalan Lot Beautification

Urban Neighborhood Initiatives

The Clean and Green treatment will enrich the soil and create an open space for future development.


$2,500 to $5,500

Project Timeline


Project Leader(s):

Lisa Maria Rodriguez, Curator of Parks & Greenspaces


Volunteer + Professional

Who Else Was Involved:

Ann Byrne: Design and Installation Consultant

Lot Design:

Clean + Green

Lot Type


Lot Size

Single Lot

Lot Address

8302-26 corner of Cahalan and Mullane Streets Detroit, MI 48209

Describe the overall process for transforming your lot.

The Clean + Green Lot Design was chosen for 75-percent of our surface area which was an unlevel, rock – debris - laden mound of back-filled clay topped with slag and gravel. The lot was in such bad condition that it damaged the maintenance equipment and was an open invitation to dumpers and ATVs. Our in-kind equipment operators leveled the lot and realized the lot (twice) after pre-clean & cuts by UNI staff and volunteers. They removed a #4+ caliper weed tree and a dumptruck with the assistance of Ann & Lisa. Volunteers then detached and removed an additional dumptruck worth of rock gravel and debris and hand trenched an 18-inch planting depth at the Tatsoi front corner and eastside Friendly Fence area. Gypsum was added to begin to break up the remaining hard-packed clay. This was followed by 6 yards of moisture-absorbing compost and organic amendments and topped with the finely screened soil that had been originally excavated after all debris was removed. This process left the area amenable to full sun planting, as well as, part shade planting near an existing tree area. The remaining 25 percent of the design used the Friendly Fence because the lots remained over-grade after the extensive material removal. The slope was severely lessened and carefully directed to the east and north borders where perennials were installed along with some generously reseeding. To slow dumping and ATV incursion, an elevated living fence was added to the north alley side and the perennial plantings line both sides of the bottom of this fence to stay true to the Friendly Fence Design. Additionally, the top of the pallet fence was planted with climbing and trailing plants to complement the Friendly Fence.

How were community members involved in the process?

Ten community members plus an estimated 100 additional volunteers from the greater Detroit, metropolitan Detroit and beyond assisted with the projects.

Did you customize your lot design? If so, how?

As previously mentioned, adding a living fence to the northern Friendly Fence Lot Design and using a mixture of perennials both on and off the recommended list, best suited the unique conditions of our lots. A 10-square-foot area at the southwest corner was planted with Tatsoi as a demonstration of an alternative/edible plant choice for the Clean + Green Lot Design.

Is your current project part of a larger plan, goal, or initiative within your community?


Purpose of the Project:

Beautification, Prevent Dumping, Public Open Space

Lessons Learned
Land Acquisition

One lot remains on DLBA books. We hope our investment and adjacent owner status moves us toward acquisition sooner. We did engage the other adjacent owner who is amenable to our connecting their downspouts for future water supply and is not interested in purchasing the lot at this time.

Skill Building

All our volunteers learned new skills throughout the process. Our experts learned new skills like fence installation as well.

Community Engagement

Neighbors were engaged prior the project construction. Some joined our volunteer cohort and others provided water. Many weighed in on what they're interested in seeing on the lot for further development. Two neighbors cleaned their alley frontage and one made extensive garage repairs. Additional neighbors are looking forward to additional engagement to plan the future of this greenspace and almost all reported four hyper-local troubled locations that could impact the safety or quality of life of people at the greenspace or adjacent lots.


We were able raise additional funds for this project as well as receive more in-kind materials



What was challenging about this process, and how did you adapt?

The greatest challenge of this project was navigating through the online application. There is no way to save it in que, therefore, it made it nearly impossible for field personnel to work on it in bits between tasks or share for in-house editing before submitting.  No adapting, just had to lose the document four times until there was time to complete it in one sitting.

What is the maintenance plan for this project after its first year?

We are engaging the neighbors to water the plants, harvest, sharing the edible plants, and keeping the lots clean of trash.  We will also work with neighbors to ensure the lots stay cut and plan to develop a low-cost water supply system for future years. We will also be engaging the city for re-curb installation along Mullane to slow loitering, littering, and parking.