Presenting “The Map:” TheHUB’s exclusive guide to what and where investment is happening in Detroit Council District 2

New investments are popping up in Detroit’s neighborhoods, and we want to keep you up to date on where they are happening.

If you take out the Michigan State Fair redevelopment project, the total investments currently in the pipeline for District 2 come to approximately $78 million.

You can find it all here in “The Map,” TheHUB’s definitive guide to neighborhood investments, which takes an in-depth look at local development efforts. Our project will cover those in pre-development and/or planning stages that are supported by verified spending, not just concepts, as well as construction and recently completed projects.

Our report detail will include:

  • Thumbnail project descriptions
  • Total investment value
  • Affordable housing unit commitments (inclusionary housing)
  • Minority contractor awards
  • Anticipated job creation

This month we take a look at what’s happening in District 2, represented by Detroit City Council President Pro-Tem George Cushinberry and supported by the Duggan Administration’s Department of Neighborhoods District Manager Kim Tandy and Deputy District Manger Sean Davis.

Developer Marvin Beatty is a part of the force behind mixed-use development efforts at the Michigan State Fairgrounds, which has the potential for significant economic impact not just in Detroit, but in all of Southeast Michigan and the state. Photo Michelle Gerard

TheHUB examined projects in the district starting with a large, mixed-use development at the Michigan State Fairgrounds, which has the potential for significant economic impact not just in Detroit, but in all of Southeast Michigan and the state. Other projects we looked at this month are more modest in scope and, frankly, in the investments made by developers.

If you take out the Michigan State Fair redevelopment project, the total investments currently in the pipeline for District 2 come to approximately $78 million. While that’s nothing to sneeze at, it’s a far cry from the half billion dollars we found in our recent look at investments in traditional neighborhoods in District 5, which borders downtown and Midtown.

District 2 has fewer residential projects under development than District 5. The exceptions are Hartford Village, a senior housing community of 80 units on Meyers Road, and the redevelopment of 72 units of affordable housing at Ryan Court Apartments now under construction and will be known as Oakman Townhomes.

The investments in Detroit’s neighborhood are still in their infancy, and there is a long way to go before the “tale of two cities” critics will be satisfied

Looking further into the future, the redevelopment of the Michigan State Fairgrounds will include approximately 700 residential units once that project gets started.

TheHUB identified several private and government-sponsored initiatives that are promoting neighborhood economic development, and District 2 is a hot spot for many of those programs.

One such effort is the Detroit Strategic Neighborhoods Initiative led by three community development financial institutions (CDFIs) – Invest Detroit, the Detroit Development Fund and Opportunity Resource Fund.

Another city-wide initiative is the Motor City Match program and its newly announced sister program called Motor City Re-Store. Both are managed by the Detroit Economic Growth Corporation.

The investments in Detroit’s neighborhood are still in their infancy, and there is a long way to go before the “tale of two cities” critics will be satisfied. TheHUB will continue to monitor developments as they happen, and we’ll ask the hard questions about the value and impact of the kinds of development proposed for the neighborhoods. We also will continue to probe for answers when development is not happening in some neighborhoods.

We want to thank the many community development organizations and for-profit developers for supporting our effort to compile an accurate and thorough inventory of the investments in the District and, most particularly, our sponsors who generously support this effort.

There is a lot going on Detroit neighborhoods. We are pleased to share their progress with you. Let us know what you think!

Editor’s note: Our next issue of The Map will detail developments in District 6 in Southwest Detroit. If your organization has a project you feel should make “The Map,” please forward a project description to our project manager and TheHUB’s director of neighborhood economic development, Rob Dewaelsche. You can reach him at 313-580-0672 or via email at




District 2 covers the near northwest side of Detroit from just east of Woodward going west to the Southfield Freeway, and extends from the Davison Freeway and Lyndon Ave. on the south going north to the city limits at Eight Mile. The neighborhoods in the district are very diverse and stretch from Dexter-Fenkell and Pilgrim Village to University District, Sherwood Forest and Bagley over to Greenfield, College Park and Winship, to name a few.


If you take the still undefined Michigan State Fair Development out of the picture, new and rehabbed housing units total a modest 361 units. Almost half of this rather small number will be affordable housing units. If we include the Michigan State Fair project’s expected 700 units, which are presumed to include 20 percent affordable housing, the numbers become more respectable with a total number of residential units in the pipeline coming in at 1,061. That includes 319 affordable units at 80 percent AMI, still a hefty 30 percent of all units developed  overall.


The planned developments in District 2 include a narrow range of projects from a handful of small- and medium-sized residential development projects in Fitzgerald, Ryan Court and Hartford Village as well as individual small business start-ups and expansions along the district’s commercial corridors. Then there’s the 800-lb. gorilla in the room – the deal at the fairgrounds. It’s a complex, multi-use, multi-year redevelopment project that has struggled to assemble the financing needed to get off the ground. That project holds the potential to change the dynamics of nearby neighborhoods and the entire region if it can come up with a plan that is economically sustainable in a fast-changing consumer environment and finally put a shovel in the ground.

Without the State Fair project you end up with a hodgepodge of development in scattered neighborhoods.


District 2 is well-represented by small businesses. Many have taken advantage of the ever-growing menu of programs and services that have sprung up in recent years to help start-up and existing businesses find the technical assistance, training, resources and funding they need to get started or expand their businesses in the city. A variety of small business support programs are offered by non-profit organizations, place-based business associations, community development financial institutions (CDFI’s), and governmental agencies. In this issue TheHUB takes a look at a couple of these programs including Motor City Match and the Detroit Strategic Neighborhoods Initiative, which includes the Detroit Development Fund. For a complete list of small business resources go to


The City of Detroit has launched an $11.5 million pilot neighborhood revitalization project in the Fitzgerald neighborhood near Livernois and McNichols, which could be a model for neighborhood development in other distressed parts of the city.

The city also has designated a partnership between Century Partners and The Platform to implement a comprehensive initiative called Fitz Forward. The plan is to renovate 115 publicly-owned residential properties into rental and for-sale units to stabilize and repopulate the neighborhood. In addition, the developers will demolish 16 blighted structures and landscape and maintain 192 vacant lots in the quarter square mile target neighborhood. With a grant of $4 million from Reimaging the Civic Commons, the plan also calls for the creation of a greenway connector between Marygrove College on the west side of the neighborhood and the University of Detroit Mercy to the east. A central park, named Ella Fitzgerald Park, will be constructed in the middle of the target neighborhood.


The City of Detroit Recreation and General Services Departments has invested millions of dollars in recent years to improve city parks for the benefit of neighborhood youth and people of all ages. In 2017, the city plans to invest a total of $1.9 million to improve seven neighborhood parks throughout District 2, including new walkways, playground equipment, basketball courts, picnic shelters and other amenities.  The city recently celebrated its partnership with the nonprofit People for Palmer Park and the completion of an initial $400,000 renovation of the historic Log Cabin in Palmer Park.


District 2 has many medium- and high-income neighborhoods that stretch along its commercial corridors from Woodward and Seven Mile west to Six Mile (McNichols) and Greenfield. Yet, despite its demographic advantages, new development in the district is spotty at best. The economic development activity identified by TheHUB in District 2 is far more unconnected than in District 5, the first city council district we examined. To a great extent that is understandable since there is no common unifying focus in the district like Woodward Avenue provides for the downtown and Midtown areas.

The largest volume traffic corridors in the district are Woodward Avenue from McNichols north to Eight Mile Road and Eight Mile Boulevard, from the Southfield Freeway east to John R.  Neither one of these well-traveled corridors can currently claim any momentum in terms of planned economic development.

The development taking place is concentrated in the Live6 area from the Lodge Freeway (M-10) north to Seven Mile, along McNichols from Livernois to Wyoming, and along the rebounding Avenue of Fashion on Livernois from Seven Mile to Mile Eight Mile.


It takes having a robust community-based development organization working on the ground in neighborhoods to prevent economic decline and/or stimulate economic revitalization. For evidence of that you need look no further than the study released this spring by the University of Michigan.

Funders and investors have said as much to TheHUB when describing what they like to see in a neighborhood when they are choosing where to invest their dollars (see TheHUB’s Partners for Progress feature) So, it seems an oversimplification when residents and critics say nothing is happening in the neighborhoods.

 The challenge for the city and its investor partners is to connect the dots more quickly and to do so without risking spending good money after bad.

So far our series, which has taken a closer look at development in two of Detroit’s seven council districts, solidly refutes the allegation that “nothing is happening in the neighborhoods.” That said, what we have found is what’s happening in the neighborhoods is often concentrated in pockets. The challenge for the city and its investor partners is to connect the dots more quickly and to do so without risking spending good money after bad.

Residents and business owners in neighborhoods not yet been designated as “target neighborhoods” or “the next Midtown” can ask themselves if they are doing all they can to get ready for investments by cleaning up their communities and making their streets safe for new investment. That means more community organizing, more community policing and, yes, more collaborative planning with the city to decide what kinds of change and improvements residents and businesses would like to see in the neighborhoods – places we call home that are uniquely Detroit.

The #LiveLoveDetroit Project Team

The #LiveLoveDetroit series is a massive undertaking involving countless hours of research and investigation, as we examine development projects aimed at our city’s neighborhood resurgence.

Making our neighborhoods livable and loveable will be the ultimate test of how far Detroit has come in its economic recovery. These development projects and their ongoing collaboration with the neighborhoods and their residents  are crucial to that revitalization. It is our goal to share the details of these efforts with our readers.

The effort is led by Rob Dewaelsche, TheHUB’s neighborhood economic development director, and Senior Editor Eddie Allen. The project is supported by editor Marge Sorge and art director, Jeanette Williamson.

Robert Dewaelsche

Robert Dewaelsche, neighborhood economic development director
Robert Dewaelsche is a recognized leader in community development. In addition to his role at TheHUB, he is president of Sustainability Knocks, LLC, a consulting and communications firm that helps community-based organizations and faith-based groups access and optimize the resources needed to sustain and grow their organizational capacity, achieve their mission priorities and better serve their consumers, members and the community at large. With more than 35 years of experience in nonprofit and corporate institutions, his passion is working to revitalize economically distressed urban neighborhoods in Detroit.

Prior to his consulting work, Dewaelsche was deputy director at Detroit LISC (Local Initiatives Support Corporation) where he was responsible for managing the field staff, program and grant management, including oversight of the work in five targeted Detroit neighborhoods, and assisting with fund development efforts and long-range strategic planning for the organization. He also has served as executive director of Habitat for Humanity Detroit and worked at Habitat for Humanity International for five years. In that role he facilitated a national community planning and development pilot program in four cities and was a resource development officer focusing on churches, faith groups and national corporations.

E.B. Allen, senior editor

Eddie Allen

Our highly acclaimed senior editor E.B. (Eddie) Allen has more than 20 years of experience in print and digital journalism, communications and marketing. In addition to writing for the Associated Press, The (Toledo) Blade and the Michigan Chronicle, he also served as manager of organizational communications at Focus: HOPE where he supervised the production of publications for social charity. As vice president and consultant, he advised Books 4 Buddies, a literacy non-profit in Toledo, Ohio, on strategies. As part of the Skillman Foundation’s communications team, Allen has received the Gold Wilmer Shields Rich Award and a first place award for minority issues from the Ohio Society of Professional Journalists.

See more of TheHUB’s coverage on Detroit District 2: 


More reasons to #LiveLoveDetroit

Presenting “The Map” for Detroit Council District 2: Your guide to where and what investment is happening, and who is driving growth in Detroit’s neighborhoods

Making Magic: Former Fairgrounds is site of $1 billion vision

Citizens organize around former Fairgrounds’ future

Stop the presses: Fitzgerald project publicity must wait on results

Breaking Barriers: University strives to meld campus with community

Matchmaker: Motor City Match builds dreams in District 2 and citywide

A Sip of Success: Café aims to bring residents, students and businesses under one roof

Celebrating a Century: Sherwood Forest turns 100

Partners for Progress: Teamwork guides multi-million-dollar neighborhood fun



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