By Veronica Grecu, Associate Editor
In an ambitious effort to bring back Detroit’s lost glory and after two years of community surveys that involved around 150,000 Detroiters, Mayor Dave Bing has released a comprehensive document that will serve as a strategic revitalization plan for the financially troubled city. The document dubbed Detroit Future City is structured as a five-year action plan that is expected to trigger economic growth, land use improvement and infrastructure revitalization in the entire city over the following 20 to 50 years.
According to the document–which can be found online and at the city’s public libraries–Detroit has at least 30,000 empty homes and 20 square miles of vacant land. As a consequence, Detroit Future City’s major focus point is finding ways to reuse the empty buildings to stimulate job growth in the neighborhoods, and transform the vacant parcels into open space or community gardens. Detroiters living in depopulated neighborhoods will be encouraged to relocate to more dense residential areas in the city.
Apart from targeting Detroit’s housing needs, the strategic framework also focuses on supporting business growth by providing more relaxed regulations for startup companies, stimulating entrepreneurship and developing shopping centers easily accessible by foot. Other focus areas include creating neighborhood-based schools to anchor communities and developing green infrastructure on parcels located between industrial areas and neighborhoods.
Although the document does not include any financial plans, Troy-based philanthropic private organization The Kresge Foundation will provide at least $150 million in initial funding for the first five years. Further grants are expected to be attracted by a steering committee comprised of 14 members from the business, non-profit, government and philanthropic sectors of Detroit.