fitzgeraldThe City of Detroit is looking for development partners to help it set the course for the revitalization of neighborhoods in need.

The City’s Housing & Revitalization and Planning & Development departments, along with the Detroit Land Bank Authority, released requests for proposals (RFPs) today to bring to fruition the re-envisioning of the Fitzgerald neighborhood.

There were two RFPs posted today:

  • The first calls for the rehabilitation of about 100 houses in the neighborhood. Properties in this bundle that are not salvageable will need to be demolished, their lots potentially being landscaped using one of the treatments from the plan or incorporated into a side lot for a rehabbed property.
  • The other RFP calls for a plan to transform a series of vacant lots in the area into productive landscapes that can include innovative ecological, agricultural, energy, crop and other uses within a neighborhood context.

The City will host two info sessions and two tours for interested developers ahead of the Aug. 26 deadline. The City expects to notify the winners at the end of September.

About the plan

In partnership with neighborhood residents, the City has developed a framework plan to address more than 25 acres of vacant, publicly owned land as part of a pilot project within the Fitzgerald neighborhood in northwest Detroit. The plan provides a framework to activate and improve vacant parcels that balances the needs for greater open space, population density and rehab of existing homes, as well as needs for community gathering and recreation, opportunities to develop new productive landscape projects and the needs for long-term maintenance.

The vision for the Fitzgerald Revitalization Project is to create a comprehensive strategy to address all vacant, publicly owned properties in the project area, which will contribute to neighborhood stabilization, increased property values, and improved quality of life of residents.

The three-part implementation strategy includes:

  1. Creation of a neighborhood park and greenway to be maintained by the Parks and Recreation Department.
  2. Development of economically self-sustaining, productive landscapes in partnership with one or more Productive Landscape Developers or Development Teams (Productive Landscape Development RFP).

III. Rehabilitation of all salvageable, publicly owned structures and implementation of low-maintenance landscape strategies in partnership with a Housing Developer (Housing Rehabilitation RFP).

“We are excited about the prospects of using landscape design and preservation of existing homes to support neighborhood redevelopment and eliminate blight,” said Maurice Cox, city planning director. “This has the power to transform and contribute to the neighborhood revitalization of Fitzgerald.

“We expect that Fitzgerald will lead the way in improving quality of life in some of our other neighborhoods.”

One of the more visionary aspects of the plan is how the City will deal with vacant parcels, one of the bigger questions the City has had to deal with as it looks to improve its neighborhoods. They will either converted into a public greenway and neighborhood park that will be redeveloped and maintained by the City; turned into smaller social spaces maintained in partnership with the community, or larger clusters of vacant lots can be redeveloped into productive landscapes – whether for crop production, stormwater management or other uses determined through this RFP process. Other individual parcels can be redeveloped into lower-maintenance meadows in partnership with a housing developer who will rehabilitate vacant, publicly owned houses next door.

“Our strategy is focused on creating a mixed-income neighborhood with both ownership and professionally managed rental housing and open space,” said Arthur Jemison, head of the city’s Housing and Revitalization Department. “There will be a place for every kind of Detroiter, and because of the affordable housing component, as the neighborhood continues to improve, we will continue to have a place for affordable housing.

“This plan makes financial sense, as well,” Jemison said. “The cost of new construction versus rehabilitation is real, and we believe this project will also create an opportunity for medium-size developers and builders in our community.”

The Fitzgerald Revitalization Project represents a component of a larger Livernois/McNichols Revitalization Initiative, a comprehensive strategy focused on implementing a coordinated set of transformative projects that address physical, social, and economic challenges in this area of Northwest Detroit. The Livernois/McNichols planning area encompasses more than 10 neighborhoods and is bounded by Eight Mile to the north, Woodward Avenue and Highland Park to the east, the Lodge Freeway (M-10) to the south, and Wyoming Avenue to the west.

The City and the Greening of Detroit also are partnering on workforce development through green jobs training to enable residents to participate in the transformation of their neighborhood through implementing and maintaining the vision. The Greening of Detroit has been working closely with the Department of Neighborhoods and Planning & Development to recruit neighborhood residents from the project area. From the most recent training cohort to complete the Greening of Detroit’s eight-week program, eight residents from the neighborhood and surrounding area were chosen to participate in the Detroit Conservation Corps (DCC) program and begin cleaning and clearing vacant lots in the project area in preparation for the next phase of implementation. Their work has already begun to transform the neighborhood and demonstrate a renewed sense of care and investment.

“We are excited to be partnering with the Greening of Detroit on creating a greener, more walkable, more desirable community that will serve as a template for bringing back other neighborhoods in our city,” Cox said.

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