Urban planning efforts revitalize midtown Detroit

Midtown Detroit is coming back to life a little more each day.

President of Midtown Detroit, Inc. Susan Mosey spoke Tuesday, Sept. 30, in the Rhea Miller Recital Hall, cluing audience members into several ongoing projects purposed towards rejuvenating the area.

Midtown Detroit, Inc. is a nonprofit organization that works to improve Detroit by renovating and making additions while simultaneously making efforts to raise awareness about the importance of helping the city thrive.

More than $3 billion has been invested in the Midtown neighborhood during the last ten years, according to Mosey.

She said a strong focus is placed on improvements for pedestrians, such as green alleys. The organization takes run-down alleys, corrects their underground structures and makes them not only usable, but also attractive.

One-way streets have also been turned back in to two-way streets, complete with bike ramps.

Mosey said the idea was met with some reluctance because business and property owners weren’t keen on change. However, eventually 90 percent of the individuals consented, and the process began.

“We did a street at a time, and as one street was done people could clearly see it was working, it was not having any negative effects, and it was, in fact, really helping businesses and people … navigate the neighborhood,” Mosey said.

Mosey said sometimes Midtown Detroit, Inc. buys properties without having clear renovations plans in mind.

A vacant restaurant on Woodward Avenue is one example. Midtown Detroit, Inc. purchased the property to ensure it would remain a restaurant rather than be turned into a different kind of property.

HopCat, a brewery company in Grand Rapids, was interested in having a location in the area and purchased the property. They are transforming it into what will soon become the largest brew bar in the state, with 130 to 150 taps.

Bringing attractive housing to the area is another effort the company emphasizes, as the occupancy rate is 98 percent.

Midtown Detroit, Inc. is transforming a vacant Hebrew school into 27 units of loft housing. The building is located right behind the College for Creative Studies, which Mosey said makes it an ideal place to live.

Wayne State University physicians also recently broke ground on a 160,000 square-foot medical building in Midtown Detroit. The new facility will see more than 200,000 patients yearly once it is complete.

These projects are only a few of many Mosey shared.

Mosey said Midtown Detroit has made immense strides, as it was practically vacant when she assumed her role 28 years ago. She offers advice to give people working in urban planning, with the most important piece being to not give up.

“You have to have a very long horizon. You have to be patient,” Mosey said. “If you pick a strategy and it doesn’t work, shift, but if you can see that you’re making gains, you really need to stick with it and keep focusing on it.”

Mosey was the first speaker in SVSU’s 2014 “Making the Global Local” Fall Focus lecture series.

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