Photo: Vickie Thomas / WWJ

7 Detroit Neighborhoods To Receive $35 Million For Development From Local Companies

"We’ve got to get back that feeling that people want to live in our neighborhoods."

December 10, 2018 - 5:29 pm

DETROIT (WWJ) -- Detroit is taking the next step in revitalizing its neighborhoods outside of the Downtown and Midtown areas.

Mayor Mike Duggan announced Monday that seven local corporations will be donating $5 million each for a total of $35 million that will be used to help breathe new life into seven Strategic Neighborhood Fund areas in the city.

"We believe this is the largest single corporate donation for neighborhood redevelopment in the city of Detroit’s history," Duggan said at a news conference Monday in Artists Village on the city's west side.

The seven corporations making the $5 million donations are American Axle & Manufacturing (AAM), Blue Cross Blue Shield of Michigan, Chemical Bank, Fifth Third Bank, Flagstar Bank, Huntington Bank and Penske Corporation.

The program is set to deliver facelifts to the seven areas, comprised of clusters of smaller neighborhoods, in the form of business development, single-family and affordable housing, parks and green space, as well as improvements to streetscape and accessible transportation over the next five years.

The areas that will see improvements from the project are Grand River-Northwest on the city's west side; Jefferson Chalmers, near the river on the city's east side; Russell Woods/Nardin Park on the west side; Campau/Banglatown near the Detroit-Hamtramck border; Warrendale/Cody-Rouge on the southwest side; Gratiot/7 Mile in the northeast; and East Warren/Cadieux.

The $35 million is expected to be leveraged with an additional $70 million for a total of $105 million in new neighborhood investment, according to a press release from the city.

The seven neighborhood improvements will be modeled after three similar projects the city rolled out previously, making improvements to the Livernois/McNichols, Southwest/West Vernor and Islandview/Greater Villages areas.

The improvements in those neighborhoods include the new 2.5-acre Ella Fitzgerald Park in the Livernois/McNichols area, a boost in affaordable family housing in Islandview/Greater Villages and improvements to Clark Park in Southwest Detroit.

Each of the ten areas are made up of clusters of neighborhoods, and the effort will ultimately bring development to more than 70 individual neighborhoods across the city, city officials said in a press release.

The city is aiming to focus on its neighborhoods after placing so much emphasis in the Downtown area in recent years.

“People say to me, there’s no deals left in Downtown and Midtown," Duggan said. "I say ‘No kidding. But there’s deals left in Jefferson-Chalmers. There’s deals left in Russell Woods.' And now, we’re going to see if we can’t speed that up.”

Penske Corporation president Bud Denker says the city needs strong neighborhoods, and it's time to take a "pivot step" in that direction.

“We’ve been focusing on the downtown area so much, now we’re going to be able to now focus on a lot of our neighborhoods to help them out too," Denker said. "And we’re never going to focus and lose sight of our city, but now we’re going to step out and you’re going to see some real terrific things in the neighborhoods.”

Flagstar President and CEO Alessandro DiNello says he and his wife used to go Christmas shopping at malls, but have done so the last two years in Detroit's neighborhoods instead. He says he's starting to see improvement in the city and this program will further the process.

“My mom and dad came here from Italy in 1951 and they settled in Detroit on a street called August near Seven Mile and Gratiot, one of the areas that’s going to be impacted by this," DiNello said. "And they did so because they felt safe. They felt like they could get a job. They felt like they could raise their kids there. That’s what we need to get back. We’ve got to get back that feeling that people want to live in our neighborhoods.”

Watch the full news conference here: