A revitalized East Warren Commercial Corridor.
Rendering courtesy of the City of Detroit
Bustling, safe streets. A primary care center — an enhanced Balduck Park and other amenities are on their way to the East Warren/Cadieux neighborhoods as part of Strategic Neighborhood Fund (SNF). Detroit officials announced the developments to make-over the East Warren commercial corridor; stabilize and improve homes in the neighborhood; bring new businesses and support existing ones; and improve streets during a March 15 meeting via Zoom.
Blue Cross Blue Shield of Michigan, the neighborhood’s SNF corporate partner, is slated to bring health and wellness options and a primary care center, too.
The City of Detroit’s Planning & Development Department (PDD) continued its discussions of this multi-million dollar undertaking to the community after multiple prior meetings, public input, and other forms of engagement.
The plan was developed over a year and a half, and built upon in-depth feedback from the community, gathered from community meetings, weekly Zoom calls, canvassing 6,100 households, 720 respondents to surveys, 3,800 postcards, online interactions through social media, and www.ewcplan.com, and more, overcoming COVID-19 barriers in the process, officials explained. The vision is focused on ensuring all residents who have stayed can take advantage of the improvements while welcoming newcomers to the neighborhood. It is also an example of how targeted public investment can help jump-start private investment in Detroit’s neighborhoods.
This plan is the eighth of 10 Strategic Neighborhood Fund plans to be completed, according to a press release. The next plan to be presented to the community is the Warrendale/Cody Rouge neighborhood in District 7, in May.
“This plan allows us to leverage the things happening in the neighborhood and increase the quality of life and value for existing residents,” said Katy Trudeau, interim director of PDD in the press release. “This is a historic corridor for the city of Detroit, and we are excited how the plan honors the corridor’s history while supporting new businesses in the neighborhood at the same time.”
“I’d like to thank the community for helping to create and guide this plan,” said Mayor Mike Duggan in the press release. “It is critically important that those who live in the neighborhood guide its future. This makes this effort a true partnership between the City, residents, and our corporate and philanthropic sponsors through the Strategic Neighborhood Fund. Together, we are providing more opportunities for residents and making our neighborhoods better places to call home and to raise a family.”
The plan represents a vision of a more “healthy and beautiful Detroit,” that is based on inclusionary growth, economic stability, and a cultivation of trust and cooperation between residents and the city. The work also will build upon revitalizing work already happening in the area, which has seen half a dozen businesses open in recent years and several homes rehabilitated and unsalvageable, blighted homes in the MorningSide and Cornerstone Village neighborhoods demolished, the release added. The plan will see at least $7.5 million invested into the community, but the final number will likely be more.
The plan has four key areas of focus:
- Neighborhood stabilization in the MorningSide and Cornerstone Village areas, through rehabbing vacant homes and demolishing those that cannot be saved. Funding through Proposal N, which Detroit voters approved in November, will be integral to this effort.
- Parks and greenways, especially Balduck Park, where the plan will improve circulation through the park and better connect it to the neighborhood, as well as make improvements such as trails and park signage. The City’s General Services Department will begin these improvements this spring.
- Streetscape improvements to support small businesses along the commercial corridor of East Warren between 3 Mile and Cadieux. This includes getting vacant storefronts occupied, and supporting existing businesses, and helping to open more, especially among local entrepreneurs of color. This will be done through assisting with development through programs such as Motor City Match, and also by creating a safe, inviting streetscape that will fix sidewalks and lighting, slow traffic, and make it a destination for residents’ basic needs.
- Multifamily and mixed-use renovations and new construction that ensure affordability, especially for the neighborhood’s current residents. All residential projects that get any assistance from the City – whether it be land sales, assistance with state or federal funding, or tax breaks – must reserve at least 20 percent of its units as affordable housing.
Josh Neubauer with Urban Strategies, who is involved in the project, said that he’s heard “loud and clear” that the community wants to shop locally and not have to drive to the suburbs or other neighborhoods to purchase food.
“They want to support their neighbors and other entrepreneurs,” he said adding that there is an emphasis on local hiring so money is circulating in the community. “We know the people’s number one priority is to bring activities back as soon as possible.”
The SNF initiative was launched in 2017 in three neighborhoods and expanded to seven more in 2018. With the expansion came investments of $5 million each from seven corporations, each partnering with a specific neighborhood. SNF has raised more than $50 million so far for the effort. Along with the Affordable Housing Leverage Fund and Detroit Housing for the Future Fund, the funds support the revitalization of neighborhoods and preserving or building new affordable housing.
The corporate partner in East Warren/Cadieux is Blue Cross Blue Shield of Michigan, and their president and CEO, Daniel J. Loepp, grew up in the neighborhood. Aside from its financial contribution, BCBSM is also partnering with ChenMed to open a primary care center in the neighborhood.
“Blue Cross Blue Shield of Michigan is proudly headquartered in Detroit, and many of our employees call the city and the region home,” said Daniel J. Loepp, president, and CEO of BCBSM, who grew up in the neighborhood. “As Michigan’s leading health insurer that serves communities throughout the state, we know how important it is for our core communities to be healthy and vibrant.”
“For 81 years and counting, we strive to be a trusted corporate citizen and community partner of choice,” Loepp added. “Mayor Duggan’s initiative provides a great opportunity to collaborate with residents and make a financial commitment that meaningfully supports needs (to be) prioritized by the neighborhood residents. We are hopeful the positive changes will continue to benefit the neighborhood for generations.”
“The East Warren/Cadieux corridor is an integral part of the revitalization of Detroit,” said Councilmember Andre Spivey, who represents District 4, which includes the neighborhood. “The history of this area has a connecting line to its present activities, filled with strong neighborhoods, new businesses, and improved infrastructure. The completion and implementation of the East Warren/Cadieux plan will make this area another destination for visitors and a home for new residents.
“I’m super excited about what our corridor is going to look like and … the best is yet to come,” Spivey added during the March 15 meeting.