Detroit’s Planning and Development Department (PDD) will present to the community tonight its vision for bringing millions of dollars in investment into the Warrendale-Cody Rouge neighborhoods, the ninth of 10 Strategic Neighborhood Fund plans to be completed. The west side communities are located east of Rouge Park and centered at the Southfield Freeway and Joy Road.
City officials say the plan represents a vision of a Detroit built on inclusionary growth, economic opportunity, and an atmosphere of trust and cooperation between residents and the city. The work also will build upon momentum already happening in the area, which has seen several homes rehabilitated and unsalvageable, blighted homes demolished. The plan will see at least $7.4 million invested into the community, but the final number will likely be higher and outside investment is expected to follow.
The plan was developed over the course of more than a year and a half, and built upon feedback from the community, gathered from more than 35 meetings with community stakeholders, over 1,000 residents (including 400 youth) engaged, more than 200 surveys from Detroit Public School Students, online interactions through social media and more.
The vision is focused on ensuring all residents who have stayed can take advantage of the improvements, while welcoming newcomers to the neighborhood. It is also an example of how targeted public investment can help jump-start private investment in Detroit’s neighborhoods.
“Community involvement is key to the success of all our Strategic Neighborhood Fund plans, and the fact that the young people of Warrendale-Cody Rouge have helped guide their neighborhood’s future is something truly special,” says Mayor Mike Duggan. “That the next generation is helping to guide the next chapter for this neighborhood makes this truly a partnership between the City, residents, and our corporate and philanthropic sponsors. The Strategic Neighborhood Fund is providing more opportunities for residents and making our neighborhoods better places to call home and to raise a family.”
Teens from the neighborhoods interviewed City leaders, including Duggan, and the Cody-Rouge Action Alliance’s Youth Council played a key role in informing the plan.
“This plan allows us to leverage the things happening in the neighborhood and increase the quality of life and value for existing residents,” says Katy Trudeau, interim director of PDD. “These are historic neighborhoods, and we are excited how this plan honors their history while laying a strong foundation for the future.”
The plan focuses on four key areas of development:
- Economic development: The community wants to see more focus on the West Warren commercial corridor, including increasing support of existing businesses and façade improvements. Efforts to concentrate City efforts to bring new life to vacant storefronts, and the redone West Warren Avenue will benefit from major streetscape improvements, including a new mural program, that will help to make it a more desirable place for entrepreneurs to set up shop. An open-air plaza also will be installed on West Warren to spark walkability and shopping.
- Streetscape improvements: Residents want to see traffic slowed on West Warren, the streetscape extended from Longacre to Mettetal streets, safer crossings of West Warren and more beautification and better lighting of the commercial corridor. The plan also calls for relocating bus stops and improving bike lanes as well as wayfinding signage to make it easier for kids to get to and from the Boys & Girls Club on Tireman, Rouge Park, St. Suzanne Recreation Center on West Chicago, as well as Cody High School.
- Neighborhood stabilization will occur through rehabbing vacant homes and demolishing those that cannot be saved. Funding through Proposal N, which Detroit voters overwhelmingly approved in 2020, will be key to this effort. Residents have made it clear through the engagement process that preservation and rehabilitation of the housing stock should be the priority over demolition. The Bridging Neighborhoods program will rehab houses and move at least 10 families into them.
- Parks and greenways: The neighborhood parks will see considerable investment. A new Tireman-Minock Park will be created on the old Dixon School site. A new stage at Stein Park on West Chicago will offer a live performance and poetry space for youth. Simanek Playfield will be enhanced with bike and skater amenities, as well as updated courts & playfields. The City’s General Services Department is to begin these improvements next year.
“One of the things that stood out to me the most throughout the planning process was how the youth and adults had many of the same priorities for improving their neighborhood,” says Matthew Williams, lead planner on the Warrendale-Cody Rouge plan. “Our youth are just as concerned about blight, vacancy, and street safety as adults. We made an extra effort to engage our youth early and consistently throughout the process, and we continue to meet with them to develop projects in the neighborhood that they will participate in. That’s part of what makes this plan so unique and youth-centric.”
The SNF initiative was launched in 2017 in three neighborhoods and expanded to seven more in 2018. With the expansion came investments of $5 million each from seven corporations, each partnering with a specific neighborhood. SNF has raised more than $50 million so far for the effort. Along with the Affordable Housing Leverage Fund and Detroit Housing for the Future Fund, the funds support the revitalization of neighborhoods and preserving or building new affordable housing.
The corporate partner in Warrendale-Cody Rouge is Huntington Bank, which has invested in Detroit and other initiatives across the state for over 150 years.
“Huntington is proud to invest in Warrendale-Cody Rouge neighborhoods and to help usher in a new era to revitalize this critical community. The residents and City have teamed-up to create an incredible vision for the neighborhood that will improve the quality of life for all who live there and will choose to call it home in the future,” says Sandy Pierce, senior executive vice president and chair of Michigan at Huntington. “We applaud and extend our gratitude to the hundreds of young people that played a key role in shaping and developing this plan. Their continued leadership and creative ideas will be fundamental to the meaningful outcomes that will benefit all ages and generations to come.”
Despite COVID-19, the City made considerable progress in the other SNF areas, including community engagement and construction and preservation of affordable housing. Streetscapes either completed or to be finished soon include Livernois, McNichols, and Kercheval streets; Butzel Park will begin a makeover soon, and Jayne Field and Zussman Park are among those nearing completion. The Parker-Durand project at Kercheval and Van Dyke, which is half affordable units, is to open this August. The next plan to be presented to the community is the Gratiot/7 Mile neighborhood in District 4, in June.
For those wishing to virtually attend the unveiling of the plan, Zoom details are:
Time: 6 p.m.-7:30 p.m. May 19
By phone: 312-626-6799
Meeting ID: 883 9744 9191