New Planning Director Antoine Bryant comes to Detroit from Houston, following 25-plus years as a planner, architect & community advocate focused on engagement, equity
Mayor Mike Duggan announced today that he has nominated Antoine Bryant to serve as the director of the Planning & Development Department following a nationwide search. His selection is contingent upon approval by the Detroit City Council.
Bryant comes to Detroit from Houston, where he has served as business development and project manager for Moody Nolan. His career has centered around the development and social empowerment of underserved communities. He is a nationally recognized thought leader in civic engagement, urban planning and community-led design. With more than 25 years of experience, he has directed efforts across the country, from neighborhood plans to full-scale strategic planning activities. Bryant, recognized as an authority on urban development and demographic trends, was selected following a nationwide search. He started Monday on in interim basis, pending council confirmation.
“We are incredibly fortunate to have someone of the national reputation that Antoine brings to lead the process of redeveloping our neighborhoods in close collaboration with residents,” Mayor Duggan said. “He has a clear commitment to – and a long track record of – deep community engagement and developing a vision and plan that reflects the desires of residents.”
Working in the public, nonprofit and private arenas, Bryant has a proven track record of landing funding from the U.S. Department of Housing & Urban Development (HUD), including Community Development Block Grants (CDBG) and HOME funds, as well as Low-Income Housing Tax Credits (LIHTC). All three sources of funding are key sources for the work the City of Detroit performs in neighborhoods. He also has extensive experience with affordable housing development and knows its importance in creating opportunity and cities for all.
At Moody Nolan, a nationally recognized architecture firm, he worked on projects in historic African-American neighborhoods in Houston. Throughout his work, Bryant has been intentional in his efforts to empower those who have undergone various levels of disenfranchisement and ensuring that they have a deliberate voice in the improvement and growth of their community.
“The mayor and I share the belief that residents must have a voice in planning and development and in creating a more equitable city,” Bryant said. “The challenges that Detroit is experiencing are not new or unique, but we have a mayor that gets it, a hardworking municipal staff, a passionate City Council and dedicated philanthropic and corporate communities to overcome those challenges together.”
Nationally, Bryant serves on the Board of Directors for the National Organization of Minority Architects (NOMA) as director of strategic partnerships, establishing relationships with affiliated organizations that work with architects across the country. Additionally, he was appointed to the ACE Mentorship National DEI (Diversity, Equity & Inclusion) Committee, and serves as a health equity co-chair for the International WELL Building Institute (IWBI). He played a key role in defending equitable development as a member of the City of Houston Planning Commission.
“I believe that the way people live their everyday lives now has a direct impact on their futures,” Bryant said. “Being able to make a difference in the lives of my future neighbors and to help those who have been unable to reach their full potential to get there, that’s what planners like me live for. As an African-American man being able to do that work in a majority African-American city like Detroit is an opportunity and responsibility that I do not take lightly.”
Bryant will lead the City’s neighborhood redevelopment strategy and the ensuring residents play a leading role in the planning process – a task that will be greatly aided by his extensive background in civic engagement, community-led design and social empowerment of underserved communities.
Bryant received his bachelor’s degree in Urban and Regional Studies from Cornell University and his master’s of architecture from the University of Texas.
If confirmed, Bryant steps into a position that has been filled on an interim basis by Katy Trudeau, who will return to her previous position as deputy director of PDD. Among her many responsibilities over her five years with the City, Trudeau has served as point on the Strategic Neighborhood Fund, helping to raise more than $50 million and creating plans to improve 10 neighborhoods across the city. She has helped the City forge corporate-partner relationships and oversees the city’s commercial corridor overhaul projects. Trudeau played a leading role in Detroit’s successful bid for a $30 million Choice Neighborhoods grant from HUD, which will help bring 500 affordable housing units to the rapidly developing Corktown area among tens of millions in infrastructure improvements. The Corktown planning process was the most comprehensive and ambitious planning project Detroit has undertaken in a generation.
“Katy has done an incredible job for the residents of this city, and has ensured the success of the Strategic Neighborhood Fund,” Mayor Duggan said. “With her experience and accomplishments, now coupled with Antoine Bryant, the Planning Department will have two brilliant planners helping to plot our city’s future.”
Bryant is a 57-year-old Brooklyn native who moved from Texas for the position, according to an article from Deadline Detroit. He was a planning commission member in Houston since 2011 and worked as project manager and business development director for the Houston branch of Ohio-based Moody Nolan, the biggest Black-owned architecture firm in the nation.
Bryant will report to Donald Rencher, group executive of Planning, Housing & Development.
“The people of Detroit now have an even better team helping to create a better city,” Rencher said. “The fact that Detroit has been able to recruit a leader of Antoine’s talent speaks to the work the Planning & Development Department is doing day in and day out. I am proud of the team that we have put into place and cannot wait to see them execute their vision for the people of this city, a vision of empowerment and equity built on the needs and feedback of our residents.”