Government, civic, and neighborhood leaders broke ground today on efforts to revitalize the Livernois-McNichols area on Detroit’s west side. The Ella Fitzgerald Park groundbreaking is the first major construction of the two-year Fitzgerald Revitalization Project, that will see some 115 vacant homes rehabbed for rental or sale, 16 demolished, and nearly 200 vacant lots turned into greenways, gardens, flowering meadows, or other community assets.
Kresge Foundation President Rip Rapson, University of Detroit Mercy president Antoine Garibaldi, Prairie Block Club president Darnetta Banks, and Detroit Mayor Mike Duggan led the ceremony, which began at the park.
In addition to the start of work on the new park, the event also included the groundbreaking of HomeBase, a new community center on McNichols Avenue that will house community stewardship program Live6 Alliance, the Detroit Collaborative Design Center, and shared space for various community groups.
“Kresge’s commitments alone across the broad Livernois-McNichols area will exceed $20 million over the next several years,” says Rapson. “That ranges from support for Live6 and the new HomeBase to neighborhood arts projects to support for housing and Ella Fitzgerald Park and greenway development. And we are only one of a number of funders and groups coming together here.”
An update regarding the Reimagining the Civic Commons initiative was also provided by Kresge senior fellow Carol Coletta. Reimagining the Civic Commons is a national effort focused on renewing public spaces as places where people of different backgrounds can connect. The program is supported by the The Kresge Foundation, JPB Foundation, the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation, and The Rockefeller Foundation.
Renderings for two new murals by local artist Hubert Massey were also unveiled, which were created in collaboration with neighborhood residents and will later be installed in Ella Fitzgerald Park.
“The start of this project is a major milestone in our efforts to revitalize many of our neighborhoods that have experienced a loss in population,” says Duggan. “By working closely with the community and partners like Kresge, we are turning the vacant land, once seen as a liability, into an asset.”