The vision for the Fitzgerald Revitalization Project is to transform a quarter square mile area by addressing every publicly owned vacant lot and house. Removing blighted structures, beautifying vacant lots and creating homes for new residents will contribute to stabilization, increased property values, and improved quality of life. The City of Detroit has developed a three-part implementation strategy to create a sustainable model for transforming and maintaining all parcels within the Fitzgerald Project Area:
- Creation of a neighborhood park and greenway to be maintained by the Parks and Recreation Department
- Development of economically self-sustaining, productive landscapes in partnership with one or more Productive Landscape Developers or Development Teams (Productive Landscape Development RFP)
- Rehabilitation of all salvageable, publicly-owned structures and implementation of low-maintenance landscape strategies in partnership with a Housing Developer (Housing Rehabilitation RFP)
The Fitzgerald Project Area identified within the larger Fitzgerald neighborhood was selected for this pilot because of the concentration of publicly-owned vacant lots and homes. This smaller project area also allows for the overall impact to be focused in a walkable, quarter-square mile area.
To start the project, the City of Detroit commissioned an award-winning landscape architecture firm, Spackman Mossop & Michaels (SMM), to work with the residents of the Fitzgerald Project Area to create a Neighborhood Framework Plan. SMM assessed the range of existing conditions and created a flexible, interstitial landscape plan to activate and improve vacant land parcels in a way that addresses every publicly-owned parcel in the project area. The plan incorporated feedback from residents on current neighborhood issues as well as amenities and uses they would like to see in their neighborhood. The plan provides a framework that balances the needs for greater open space, community gathering and recreation, opportunities to develop new productive landscape projects, and the sustainability of long-term maintenance.
The Neighborhood Framework Plan depicts the three-part implementation strategy developed to address every publicly owned lot and structure in the Fitzgerald Project Area.
(1) Park and Public Space
Vacant lots will be converted into a public greenway, neighborhood park, and “Neighborhood Hubs,” smaller, community-driven social spaces. This part of the project will be driven by the City of Detroit in partnership with residents and block clubs.
(2) Productive Landscape Strategy
Larger, contiguous clusters of vacant lots can be redeveloped into productive landscapes.
The Productive Landscape Developer RFP was published to identify one or more qualified Productive Landscape Developers or Development teams interested in and committed to transforming vacant lots into economically self-sustaining businesses and assets. Project proposals were expected to:
- Redevelop vacant parcels into productive uses that improve neighborhood image, contribute ecological, economic and social value, and can sustain their ongoing maintenance;
- Create local workforce opportunities and develop local capacity for Detroiters, particularly residents in Fitzgerald; and
- Implement and maintain the fence and setback strategy to promote a cohesive identity within the neighborhood and improve public safety by demonstrating investment in the community and elimination of blight.
Summaries of the finalist Productive Landscape proposals can be found here.
(3) Housing Rehabilitation Strategy
Vacant structures must be either demolished or rehabilitated for rent or sale to increase safety and occupancy throughout the neighborhood. The Housing Developer RFP was published to identify community-focused development teams to take on this part of the Neighborhood Framework Plan. Project proposals were expected to:
- Rehabilitate all salvageable, publicly-owned structures;
- Demolish any publicly-owned structures that cannot be saved; and
- Implement and maintain low-maintenance landscape strategies on individual and small clusters of vacant lots not used for the park, greenway, hubs, or productive landscape in order to further stabilize the neighborhood.
Summaries of the finalist Housing Developer proposals can be found here.
All three of these parts fit together to achieve the overall Neighborhood Framework Plan. This plan will continue to evolve with community and project partner input. It will continue to be updated over time to show more details as they are finalized.
The Fitzgerald Revitalization Project represents one part of a larger Livernois/McNichols Corridor Revitalization Plan, a comprehensive planning strategy focused on implementing a coordinated range of transformative projects to address physical, social, and economic challenges in this area of Northwest Detroit. The planning area includes more than ten different neighborhoods, one of which is Fitzgerald. The mission of the plan is to create and sustain a vibrant, attractive community by focusing on six key initiatives.
- Safety and Public Services;
- Planning and Placemaking;
- Multifamily Residential Development;
- Neighborhood Stabilization;
- Small Business and Retail Development; and
- Transit and Mobility.
The City of Detroit has hired consultants to advise on public realm improvements, urban design, zoning, economic strategy, and transportation improvements. It has also engaged community, private sector, and institutional partners to support development opportunities along the corridors for small business growth and redevelopment of vacant and underused commercial buildings.