Detroit Neighborhoods Receive $35M in Commitments for Improvements

Posted on December 13, 2018

Detroit neighborhoods will get $35 million in commitments from seven companies, Mayor Mike Duggan and company executives announced today.

AAM (American Axle & Manufacturing), Blue Cross Blue Shield of Michigan, Chemical Bank, Fifth Third Bank, Flagstar Bank, Huntington Bank, and Penske Corp. each contributed $5 million to fund physical improvements in Strategic Neighborhood Fund areas and affordable housing citywide. Every investment will be guided by resident input.

The commitment is believed to be the largest corporate donation to neighborhood development in Detroit’s history. It is expected to leverage another $70 million in private investment for a total of $105 million of new investment. The money will go to:

  • Park improvements, including improvements to existing parks and the building of new ones;
  • Commercial development to fill vacant storefronts and lofts with mixed-use and multifamily projects along commercial corridors;
  • Streetscape improvements, including street and sidewalk repaving and redesigns;
  • Single-family home stabilization to renovate and preserve vacant houses, build density, and create affordable housing in these neighborhoods; and
  • Affordable housing development to fight displacement where there is growth.

“Today, we are seeing a major shift within the corporate community toward investment to our neighborhoods, and residents can expect real, physical, changes coming in the next few years,” says Duggan. “With the help of our partners and this record-breaking commitment, we are taking the strategy that worked in Midtown and scaling it citywide to bring more development to neighborhoods across our city.”

The Strategic Neighborhood Fund was piloted with a $42-million investment in the first three Strategic Neighborhood Fund areas: Livernois/McNichols, Southwest/West Vernor, and Islandview/Greater Villages. Improvements already underway include the new 2.5-acre Ella Fitzgerald Park in the Fitzgerald neighborhood of the Livernois/McNichols area; the Coe development in Islandview/Greater Villages, where 12 new units of housing were built on a vacant lot, including 30 percent affordable housing; and new lighting and planned improvements to Clark Park in southwest Detroit.

The commitment will allow the Strategic Neighborhood Fund to expand this work from three to 10 areas and implement the new Affordable Housing Leverage Fund to fight displacement as the neighborhoods grow. The next seven Strategic Neighborhood Fund areas are Grand River Northwest, Jefferson Chalmers, Russell Woods/Nardin Park, Campau/Banglatown, Warrendale/Cody-Rouge, Gratiot/7-Mile, and East Warren/Cadieux. These new areas will see improvements in the next five years.

Each of the areas are made up of clusters of neighborhoods, and the effort will ultimately bring development to more than 70 neighborhoods across the city. Affordable housing investments will be made citywide.

The coalition of partners came together over the last year, an effort led by Duggan; Gary Torgow, chairman of Chemical Financial Corp.; Steve Steinour, CEO of Huntington Bank; and Dan Loepp, CEO of Blue Cross Blue Shield of Michigan.

“It is an honor to be involved in this vital commitment to the neighborhoods that make up our great city,” says Torgow. “The fine organizations in this coalition recognize the importance of stepping up and playing a part in the revitalization of these critical areas of the city. It is this kind of creative collaboration that brings about great opportunity and change.”

The seven corporate partners join a growing list of philanthropic organizations that have committed to inclusive neighborhood development. Following an initial $15-million contribution from the Kresge Foundation, additional foundations and organizations have made significant contributions to the expansion of the Strategic Neighborhood Fund.

The planning process has engaged thousands of residents in hundreds of meetings across the city. In the Islandview Greater Villages area, city planners met with more than 1,500 residents during more than 25 public meetings.

“We’ve been working closely with the community in every neighborhood to encourage and empower the residents to stay and be a part of this city’s comeback,” says Maurice Cox, director of planning and development. “The people of Detroit who have stayed through the good times and the bad must continue to be at the forefront of this effort. We want to make sure that Detroit’s recovery includes them because they are Detroit’s future.”

Residents who want more information on how to get involved in planning can click here or contact their district manager.

The city’s $250-million Affordable Housing Leverage Fund will invest in preserving 10,000 affordable units and create 2,000 more. The city wants to ensure residents can find quality, affordable housing for people of all incomes and backgrounds wherever there are neighborhood redevelopment projects.

“We are not going to grow as a city unless we do everything in our power to keep the residents we have and attract new residents to join the communities that current residents have built,” says Donald Rencher, director of housing and revitalization. “Preserving and creating affordable housing as we invest in these areas is the right thing to do. There’s enough room for everyone in Detroit, no matter their income or background.”