Detroit City Council Approves $125M in Bond Funds to Revitalize 23 Commercial Corridors


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Detroit City Council has approved $125 million to update the city's commercial corridors.

Photo Courtesy: City of Detroit

The Detroit City Council approved a $125 million bond program requested by Mayor Mike Duggan to revitalize many of the city’s outdated commercial business corridors to make them more attractive and pedestrian friendly. The project is intended to help the city recover some of the estimated $2.6 billion in spending Detroit residents do annually in surrounding communities, according to a study soon to be released by Detroit Economic Development Corp. (DEGC). 

Approximately $80 million of the bond revenue would fund major infrastructure improvements along Detroit’s key commercial corridors including Livernois-McNichols, West Vernor, and East Warren. The other $45 million will complement existing road funds to improve 300 miles of city roads and replace hundreds of thousands of broken sections of sidewalk across the city. Corridor improvements would include landscaping and reconfiguring traffic lanes to add bike lanes, improved street parking, and wider sidewalks to allow for outdoor café seating in some areas.

“Thanks to City Council’s unanimous support of this program, neighborhoods across the will be seeing significant investment and physical improvements,” says Duggan. “This is a great day for our city.”

The bond sale must be approved by the Financial Review Commission (FRC) and Michigan Finance Authority (MFA). The bond deal is expected to be closed in mid-November, at which time the city would be able to start drawing off the funds. 

According to the DEGC report, major improvements will bring millions of dollars back to some of Detroit’s retail corridors, some of which could capture $125 million in retail activity annually.

Funding for the improvements will come from increased revenue the city is receiving from its share of state gas taxes and vehicle registration fees that have not been included in its current road improvement plan. Under Duggan’s proposal, no city general fund dollars will be used to pay back the bonds and no road maintenance activities or construction projects will be cut.

A seven-bill package approved by the Michigan legislature in Nov. 2015 raised an estimated $1.2 billion annually for road work. House Bills 4738 and 4736 raised a significant portion of those revenues by increasing gas tax from 19 cents per gallon to 26.3 cents, diesel tax from 15 cents per gallon to 26.3 cents, and vehicle registration fees increased by 20 percent.

In addition to the $125 million in projects funded by the bond funds, the City of Detroit also plans to spend another $193 million of budgeted city, state, and federal dollars (for a total investment of $317 million over the next five years) to improve a total of 300 miles of major roads and residential streets and replace 300,000 broken sidewalk sections. This means 75 percent of the total funding will go toward traditional road and sidewalk improvements, while 25 percent funds corridor enhancements. 

Together, 23 neighborhoods across the city will see improvements in their commercial corridors, in conjunction with on-going neighborhood planning projects to create framework strategies to boost neighborhood and economic development. The work will impact 17 areas throughout the city including:

  • Southwest/West Vernor Corridor
  • Islandview/Greater Villages
  • Grand River/Northwest
  • Livernois & McNichols
  • Rosa Parks/Clairmount
  • Banglatown
  • Russell Woods
  • Jefferson Chalmers
  • Delray
  • Eastern Market
  • Osborn
  • East English Village
  • Corktown
  • Brush Park
  • East Riverfront
  • I-94 Industrial Corridor
  • Warrendale & Cody Rouge

Work on the streetscapes projects will begin by early 2018, with professional engineers assessing damage and determining work for each area. Construction on the first projects will begin in late 2018, with the projects completed by 2023. Road paving and sidewalk improvements will begin in 2018 and continue annually for five years.

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