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Future of Corktown: Detroit introduces outreach program for neighborhood framework

The city of Detroit introduced Monday a nearly yearlong plan to engage residents and community stakeholders for input on the future of Corktown.

A request for proposals will be issued by the city Aug. 31 for the strategic framework of the greater Corktown area, and a comprehensive course of action will be decided by the same time next year, officials said during a meeting at IBEW Local 58 union hall.

The neighborhood meeting drew out dozens of residents and sparked wider interest in light of Ford Motor Co.’s plans to redevelop Michigan Central Station. Maurice Cox, planning director for the city and facilitator of Monday’s discussion, said the outreach program “is real, it’s deep and it’ll be diverse.”

“It feels to me like a long time coming,” he said, adding, “There was a Corktown before Ford; there will be a Corktown after.”

Cox was joined by several city officials, including John Sivills, lead urban designer of the central region for the Planning and Development Department and lead on the Corktown initiative, and Steven Lewis, design director of the central region for the department.

The Corktown framework initiaitve comes on the heels of the city launching its Strategic Neighborhood Fund 2.0, rolled out in May with a goal of raising $130 million to build 10 “vibrant, inclusive areas throughout the city, touching more than 60 individual neighborhoods over the next five years,” according to the city. The Corktown plan is separate from the strategic fund, but there will be parallel studies conducted in some areas, city spokesman Tim Carroll said.

The plan for Corktown: “Create a framework that recognizes the great potential for inclusive growth of Detroit’s oldest established neighborhood, while preserving its cultural heritage and integrity,” according to a document provided by the city.

Positioning residents as the main drivers of the neighborhood’s redevelopment was the focal point for officials Monday, but this is an objective complicated by a wave of investment and speculation resulting from Ford’s big splash. Cox and officials were adamant that while the automaker will certainly speed up development and may have complicated the discussion, it’s still one led by the community itself.

Sivills said the budget for the framework is $300,000 to $400,000.

Other key issues highlighted were reinvigorating commercial corridors outside the immediate scope of the train station redevelopment, rehabbing public spaces, connecting the east and west riverfronts, and prioritizing affordable housing.

Gentrification, demolition of historic buildings, traffic alterations, rising rents and displacement were concerns voiced during the meeting’s public comment section and were met by city officials’ promise to address and work through over the course of the year.

Regular neighborhood meetings will be scheduled as part of the listening process for the framework, officials said. In addition, feedback will be gathered from community clubs such as the Corktown Business Association and North Corktown Neighborhood Association. Framework consultants will also be working closely with Ford, which has its own team focused on projects such as new traffic plans in the area.

A meeting held by Ford to gather community input on its Corktown campus plans is scheduled for 6 p.m. July 16 at Detroit PAL, 1680 Michigan Ave. For projects that exceed $75 million of investment, developers are required by city ordinance to hold public meetings on the project.

Future Corktown neighborhood meetings will be posted on the city planning department’s website.

After a framework consultant is confirmed, the city plans to begin its engagement process and planning study at the end of October, to be implemented August 2019. Cox said the timeframe for actualizing the plan depends on community discussions.

“What we want to be done is development in a responsible way,” he said.


Posted By: Crain’s Detroit Business on July 3, 2018.  For more information, please click here to read the source article.

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