Sure, it’s already been reported. That doesn’t mean it shouldn’t be repeated.
Most of the Detroit comeback story (that’s getting broadcast most loudly) is circling over and around Downtown and Midtown. At times it can very much seem like the rest of the city is on hold, tapping our foot, waiting for the Great Arrival.
But the truth is that there are, indeed, other stories of comeback. To be sure, most are not on the scale of a brand new Joe Louis Arena, but nevertheless they are stories of neighborhoods determined to write themselves into the narrative of a city on the rebound. Neighborhoods coming together, neighborhoods reaching out, neighborhoods doing whatever is needed to do to make things happen in the most beneficial way for the neighbors that inhabit those neighborhoods.
One of those stories is the story of the Live6 Alliance, which is what happens when an urban university takes on the responsibility of being a good neighbor. Most universities have a fair amount of resources at their disposal, far beyond the reach of what most struggling to average neighborhoods would ever have access to. So when an institution like University of Detroit Mercy (UDM) decides to weigh in on the quality of life of the neighborhood it inhabits, that decision can spell good news for that neighborhood. And once spring arrives, the visible imprint of UDM’s involvement with the beautification aspects of neighborhood revitalization will become more apparent, especially as the plants begin to flower in the dramatically improved medians that stretch down the middle of Livernois from the Lodge Freeway all the way up to 8 Mile Road.
But beautification is only one step in the process, according to Dr. Antoine Garibaldi, President of UDM.
“It really was more of a beautification effort initially,” but then a larger vision began to take hold.
“A lot of our efforts focused on how can we create an economic development organization that would be a great benefit particularly for this corridor. We focused in on Livernois and McNichols because we thought that’s really where attention needed to occur.
“This is really phase one of a five-phase plan. We just completed phase one.”
Garibaldi estimates the full completion of the project – which will stretch roughly from the Lodge Freeway east to 8 Mile Road, and from Hamilton north to Wyoming – could take 3-4 years.
The formal establishment of the organization, known as Live6 Alliance, was first announced last September with a press release, which read, in part:
“The Live6 Alliance will focus on strengthening Livernois Avenue and McNichols Road (6 Mile Road) commercial corridor in Northwest Detroit. Funders have committed a total of $700,000 over two years to facilitate the Live6 Alliance’s work.
“The Live6 Alliance will build on neighborhood revitalization strategies already being implemented in the Livernois corridor. The organization is anchored by University of Detroit Mercy, with a 74.75-acre McNichols campus, located at the intersection of Livernois and McNichols. The organization will also receive support from The Kresge Foundation, the Detroit Corridor Initiative, the Detroit Economic Growth Corporation, area neighborhood associations, and other anchor institutions.
“Live6 will facilitate new efforts and complement current initiatives in the corridor related to place making, business attraction and retention, residential stabilization, safety and security. The Alliance will focus on creating and enhancing processes to strengthen private/public partnerships, enabling stronger communications within the community, exploring areas for physical improvement and facilitating action. Community input will be vital in determining community projects. Live6 will also introduce new activity, uses and visual appeal to the area, while serving as a conduit between the anchor institutions and surrounding community.”
Lauren Hood is serving as the acting director for Live6.
“She’s been doing a great job. She’s from the neighborhood, she knows the neighborhood. She’s also a graduate of Detroit Mercy.”
In addition to the $700,000, the project has also received a welcome $975,000 from the Michigan Department of Transportation.
Said Garibaldi, “The Live 6 Alliance is focused on four primary goals: placemaking, business attraction and retention, residential neighborhood stabilization, and safety and security.”