WUOMFM

development

detroit city skyline
Shawn Wilson / Wikimedia Commons / http://j.mp/1SPGCl0

Sonya Mays doesn't like saying the "g word" – gentrification, that is. 

But if we're talking about it, she says her company Develop Detroit might just have the solution. 

“We’re saying that we believe that there’s a way to be very intentional and thoughtful and to partner with particularly residents who have been in a community the longest. We’re saying there’s an approach here that can be taken that doesn’t directly lead to rapid displacement," Mays said. 

It's called equitable development, and she says cities like Harlem and Washington, D.C., have used it to combat gentrification with mostly positive results. 

A birds-eye view of the Water Street property owned by the city of Ypsilanti
City of Ypsilanti

 

The city of Ypsilanti is inching forward with a proposal to sell city-owned land to developers who want to build a more than $300 million housing and retail development on the polluted site.

After a meeting that lasted more than six hours, the council voted 4-3 to agree to a non-binding land purchase agreement with International Village LLC, the development company headed by Troy-based Amy Foster. Two city council members abstained from voting and one voted no. 

Are there two Detroits? A new report says yes, but…

Sep 13, 2017
Detroit skyline
City of Detroit

Turns out, there could be something to perceptions about “two Detroits” after all.

The Urban Institute, a nonprofit Washington D.C. think tank, issued a report Tuesday that concludes tax subsidies in Detroit have disproportionately favored downtown and Midtown.

Those areas received 57 percent of state, federal, and local tax subsidy investments from 2013 to 2015, even though they only contain 46 percent of the city’s 245,000 jobs, the report found.

The old Hudson's Deparment Store site in Detroit
girl-in-the-d / FLICKR - HTTP://J.MP/1SPGCL0

 

Republicans and Democrats in Lansing support a big incentive package that big developers in the state want. 

These incentives not only include money for cleaning up polluted “brownfield” sites, but also income tax kickbacks from the workers who build the development, and from the tax revenue of the development.

Downtown Kalamazoo.
Michigan Municipal League / Flickr - http://michrad.io/1LXrdJM

Kalamazoo will present design concepts and a strategy for the future of its downtown at a community open house tonight. The city is setting aside $10 million to spend on community-building projects over the next ten years.

The plan, called Imagine Kalamazoo 2025, started last year. The Kalamazoo City Council held a planning session Monday night to hear ideas for how to spend the money, which will be funded through a non-profit foundation.

Jodi Westrick / Michigan Radio

Formerly nicknamed the “Dan Gilbert bills” after the prominent Detroit businessman and developer, legislation to give developers a tax incentive for building on blighted land sailed through a full Senate vote and is now awaiting a hearing in the House.  

The same kind of incentives came up in Lansing last year. But they didn’t go anywhere, because some lawmakers were worried it would only help big cities like Detroit.

This time, supporters on both sides of the aisle say the legislation is for cities big and small.

Aerial shot of Detroit
flickr user Barbara Eckstein / http://j.mp/1SPGCl0

 

One of the big decisions before Detroit voters Tuesday was choosing between a pair of competing "community benefits" proposals.

Both were aimed at making sure private developers seeking tax breaks for projects in Detroit would provide certain benefits to the community around the development: Things like jobs, affordable housing and pollution controls.

Mike Jackson feels that Proposal A could make Detroit less attractive to developers.
flickr user Ken Lund / http://j.mp/1SPGCl0

 

Detroiters will find two community benefits proposals on the ballot this Election Day.

A CBO would require developers who get public support for their projects, like tax breaks, to provide certain benefits to the community.

Some locals fear that Traverse City is losing its small town feel.
flickr user zenmasterdod / http://j.mp/1SPGCl0

 

For many visitors, Traverse City is the heart of Up North.

The natural beauty is complemented by the town’s vibrant culture of fine foods, craft beer and endless festivals.

But for locals, all that popularity comes at a cost.

Detroit skyline.
Lester Graham / Michigan Radio

Development action is centered on downtown Detroit as the city gets back on its feet after bankruptcy. Corktown and Midtown have seen a lot of new construction, and now a developer is stepping up to put ideas and money into a west side Detroit neighborhood, the Herman Kiefer complex.

A Delta Air Lines Boeing 747-400 sits on the tarmac at Detroit Metropolitan Wayne County Airport.
user redlegsfan21 / flickr

On paper, it's a pretty good idea: a business district stretching ten miles between Detroit Metro and Willow Run airports.

It would attract investment money, backers said. It would create 64,000 new jobs for Southeast Michigan.

Detroit from above. Follow the link in the post to find the slider images.
University of Oklahoma

The University of Oklahoma's Institute for Quality Communities looks at Detroit from above in 1951 vs. Detroit in 2010.

Over that 60 year span, a lot changed.

Detroit residents met Monday night for a discussion on how to move forward after the elimination of Citizens District Councils (CDCs).

CDCs have been around since the Blighted Area Rehabilitation Act of 1945 granted Michigan cities the right to acquire blighted properties using the power of eminent domain.

The Detroit City Council is considering an ordinance to ensure “community benefits” come with future large development projects—but it’s drawing some fierce pushback.

The so-called “urban development agreement” has been in the works for more than a year.

It would make sure large-scale developments offer some guaranteed benefits (like jobs for local residents and city-based contractors) and protections (like safeguards for displaced residents and the environment) to host communities.

User: Brother O'Mara / flickr

Bankruptcy hearings begin

Municipal bankruptcy hearings began yesterday in Detroit.  Federal Judge Stephen Rhodes says the bankruptcy process will progress in federal court.  Michigan Radio’s Kate Wells reports that Detroit city workers and retirees were hoping to argue the case against cutting pensions in state court. 

State Senate finished with Medicaid draft

A state Senate work group has released a plan to expand Medicaid in Michigan.  The group has worked for weeks since the state Senate adjourned for summer recess.  Michigan Radio’s Jake Neher reports that “officials in Governor Rick Snyder’s administration are already embracing the revised plan.” 

Detroit could get new sports complex

Michigan economic officials are supporting plans for a new sports arena in Detroit.  Michigan Radio’s Rick Pluta reports “The project includes a new hockey arena for the Detroit Red Wings.  It would be within walking distance of the city’s football and baseball stadiums.”

Brother O'Mara / Flickr

Thunderstorms cause power outages

Utilities say more than 200,000 homes and businesses across Michigan are without power following several days of thunderstorms and hot weather, the Associated Press reports. From the AP:

DTE Energy Co. says about 175,000 of its customers were without power Thursday morning after a new round of damaging thunderstorms made its way across the state, knocking down trees and power lines. Since Tuesday, DTE says about 300,000 of its customers have been affected. The National Weather Service says wind gusts above 60 mph were reported as storms crossed the state Thursday. The Flint Journal reports 23,800 Consumers Energy customers without power in Genesee County. WSGW-AM reports 5,500 without power Midland and Gladwin counties.

Appeals court reinstates Blackwell case

The state Court of Appeals has reinstated an embezzlement case against the former emergency manager for Highland Park. Sarah Hulett reports:

Arthur Blackwell II is accused of taking $264,000 in payments that were not authorized by state officials. The appeals court decision reverses a lower court ruling - which had dismissed the case. The lower court agreed with Blackwell - who said as the city's emergency manager, he had the authority to sign the checks to himself. The appeals court says there's enough evidence that Blackwell acted improperly to try him. Blackwell was appointed to fix Highland Park's finances in 2005, by then-governor Jennifer Granholm. Wayne County Prosecutor Kym Worthy says she's pleased with the appeals court decision.

Debate over sand dune development

Governor Snyder signed legislation recently allowing Great Lakes property owners to use tillers to dig up plants on the shoreline, as long as they get a federal permit. But another fight is brewing over relaxing environmental rules to make it easier for developers to build on sand dunes. Rick Pluta reports:

Michigan has very stringent rules that prohibit building on environmentally sensitive dunes. Developers say it is possible to build on dunes set back from the shoreline without harming the view, or causing other environmental damage. The measure to relax those rules stalled just before the Legislature took its summer break, but negotiations continue in an effort to break the impasse. James Clift is with the Michigan Environmental Council. He says there may be some room to relax the rules, but he says the state needs to ensure the Great Lakes shoreline is protected.

“So if the state of Michigan isn’t stepping up, these are dunes that are globally rare resources that are going to be under development pressure.”

Clift says the dunes are a draw for tourists, and also serve as habitat for rare or threatened species.

Why removing freeways can be good for cities

Jan 13, 2011
cars on a highway
Joe Shlabotnik / http://michrad.io/1LXrdJM

(You can also see this story with more photos on the Changing Gears website)

Half a century after cities across our region and country built sprawling freeways, many of those roads are reaching the end of their useful lives.

Instead of rebuilding them, a growing number of cities are thinking about, or actively, removing them. That may come as a surprise.

When Clevelanders hear that the city plans to convert a coastal freeway into a slower, tree-lined boulevard, you get reactions like this one from Judie Vegh:

“I think it’s a pretty bad idea for commuters,” she said. “And if it were 35 mph, I would just be later than usual.”

Within the next few years, Vegh’s commute on Cleveland’s West Shoreway will likely look very different.

Cleveland City Planner Bob Brown says this is not the traditional highway project, "the traditional highway project is obviously speeding things up, adding more capacity, and often ignoring the character of neighborhoods."

It’s quite a change.

In the 1950s and 60s, freeways were seen as progress and modernity. They were part of urban renewal and planners like New York’s Robert Moses tore through neighborhoods to put up hulking steel and concrete roadways.

Today, cities are looking to take them down.

The list is long:

  • New Orleans
  • New Haven
  • Buffalo
  • Syracuse
  • San Francisco

These are just some US cities thinking about or actively taking freeways down. You can find more information about these projects on the Changing Gears website.