Posts tagged with "Detroit":

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Detroit RiverWalk gets $44 Million from Feds and State

For many years much of Detroit’s riverfront was an industrial utility, characterized by derelict manufacturing sites. But efforts to reclaim public spaces on the waterfront have made considerable progress in recent years. Now a $44 million boost from the federal government and the state of Michigan ensures transformation along the Detroit River will continue. Planned projects include the redevelopment of Mount Elliott Park, improvements to Gabriel Richard Park, and an expansion of Detroit’s RiverWalk. The walk is currently not continuous between downtown and Belle Isle, but the new funding aims to close some of the gaps. $29 million comes in the form of federal highway money, while $15 million is from the Michigan Department of Natural Resources and the Michigan Natural Resources Trust Fund. Detroiters haven taken to Yelp in recent years to express their support for the ongoing project. “To the skeptical first time visitor of Detroit,” wrote one visitor from New York last year, “RiverWalk is a shining symbol of what the city is actually made of.”
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Michigan Looks to Raze Derelict Homes in Detroit

Detroit Mayor David Bing is making good on his pledge to demolish 10,000 derelict buildings in the city by the end of his first term in 2013—his administration has already taken down 4,500 abandoned structures, with another 1,500 demolitions planned by the end of September. (Five more came down this morning, and Curbed Detroit was on the scene to document the demolition.) Now the governor of Michigan, Rick Snyder, is expected to announce state support to help raze more buildings in the name of public safety. With an initial focus on Detroit’s east, southwest, and northwest sides, the governor’s administration is currently identifying neighborhoods for a pilot program. The Michigan Land Bank, Detroit Public Schools, and the Michigan State Housing Development Authority are among the many agencies and private sector actors involved in the effort to reclaim Detroit's wealth of abandoned and unused land. Neighborhood stabilization and economic development have been at the core of many of Bing’s proposals as mayor. But with Wayne County facing a $155 million budget deficit, efforts to transform Detroit's well-documented decline will have to do more with less.
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Detroit Mayor Endorses Seed Money for Urban Agriculture

Despite the Motor City’s notoriety as a symbol of urban decay, development is actually going on in Detroit. And with almost 40 square miles of vacant land, Detroit has the chance to redefine urban renewal outright. The city recently took note of one major way some residents are turning blight into bounty: Mayor David Bing signed off on Michigan State University's plan to seed urban agriculture in Detroit with $1.5 million over the next three years. There are scores of farms and gardens already operating within the city.  D-Town farmsEastern Market, and Earthworks are among a network of urban agriculture outfits growing tons of produce within city limits. This has been going on for some time, but MetroFoodPlus—the name proposed for MSU research center—represents an unequivocal municipal endorsement of activity still prohibited by zoning. Entrepreneurs like John Hantz hope to help put thousands of vacant parcels back on the tax rolls and recast Detroit’s infamous depopulation as a unique asset. Hantz hopes to acquire 300 acres on the city’s East Side, though his dream is 10,000 acres. He may find a helping hand in MSU’s innovation cluster. Their agreement with the city is short on details for now, but its stated goals are ambitious: to turn Detroit into a global hub for food system innovation.
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Mies Blocks on the Block in Detroit

 
MIES VAN DER ROHE'S LAFAYETTE TOWERS.
Mies van der Rohe’s Lafayette Towers are up for sale. It’s a striking reminder of the symbiosis between cities and iconic architecture—one which speaks to the mercurial nature of Detroit’s real estate market since World War II. The twin high-rises were foreclosed in February, and will go up for auction later this month. All 584 apartment units will go to the highest bidder July 18, but this is no ordinary sale. The Department of Housing and Urban Development will require the lucky winner to spend more than $10 million on an 80-page list of renovations to the historic buildings, and invest $2.5 million in an escrow account for HUD to hedge their risk.
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Z World Detroit, A Neighborhood Made Undead

As community groups and government agencies in Detroit struggle to find a solution to the depopulation and economic problems facing the city, one group sees opportunity in the city's abandonment. A rather imaginative new proposal seeks to create a destination out of dereliction—a morbid amusement park out of a moribund neighborhood. A zombie experience park! Z World Detroit proposes to transform a 200-acre blighted area of the city into an interactive zombie park where abandoned warehouses become sanctuaries and condemned homes into hideouts as visitors run for their lives through city streets while the undead hordes trail closely behind. As you and a group of friends forage for food and water in this surreal over-night adventure, empty stores and forgotten factories may house the last supplies and provisions. The project's creator, Marc Siwak, encourages Detroiters to look beyond traditional modes of neighborhood revitalization, taking advantage of and embracing the rare opportunity that derelict post-industrial remains afford. To realize their dream, a crowd-sourced fundraising campaign has been launched with a goal of $145,000 to complete a comprehensive study to locate the ideal site for the project. With 39 days remaining, nearly $2,800 has been pledged. It seems zombies will never be as popular as Robocop in Motor City. Sarah Cox at Curbed Detroit mused that a tweet from Detroit's Mayor Bing might be needed to push the campaign over the top, as was the case with a proposed Robocop statue, but so far, the concept has not been approved by the city. Rather than abandon large areas of the city as Mayor Bing has proposed, Z World utilizes existing resources. According to Siwac's website, “The Z World Detroit initiative is a radical rethinking of urban redevelopment and Detroit’s well documented blight and depopulation. It turns perceived liabilities into assets that will bring renewed vitality to a struggling neighborhood.” And, if everything goes according to plan, it will create a one-of-a-kind destination that will generate jobs and spur local development.
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Rice + Lipka and Field Operations to Remake MOCA Detroit

When it opened in 2006, the Museum of Contemporary Art in Detroit became known as a cutting edge venue for showing contemporary art. Designed by Zago Architecture, the museum's raw interior and graffitied exterior seemed to fit its mission and speak to the Motor City's gritty present. How quickly museums grow up! Today, the museum announced it had selected Rice + Lipka Architects and James Corner Field Operations to renovate the building and redesign its adjacent public space.  According to a release, the renovation will include updated climate controls, improved galleries and staff offices. The exterior and surrounding site will be redesigned to accommodate programming. "Our team is thrilled to be selected by MOCAD for this visioning project that has such great potential to inspire and engage the community," said principal Lyn Rice. The project has received a $100,000 grant from the Ford Foundation and Leveraging Investments for Creativity for design work, and a $350,000 grant for construction from ArtPlace. The museum hopes to begin construction in 2013.
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Transit Stalls and Starts in the Midwest

On Wednesday, federal transportation secretary Ray LaHood effectively killed Detroit's planned light rail line, citing doubt about the city's ability to build and maintain the project, given its dire finances and collapsing levels of density. He instead pushed for bus rapid transit along the Woodward Avenue corridor. Elsewhere, however, transit seems to be gaining traction. The much debated Cincinnati Streetcar just received nearly $11 million in federal TIGER grants, allowing construction of the Over-the-Rhine to downtown line to commence, and planners will extend the line to the riverfront development called The Banks, as well as the adjacent stadia. A vociferous opposition has fought the planned line at the ballot box and in the courts, but so far they have yet to block it. Meanwhile, in Indianapolis the Central Indiana Transit Task Force are pushing for a modest tax increase to vastly expand that city's transit system, including doubling the city's bus fleet and building a commuter rail line to Noblesville. The three tenths of one percent income tax increase would be passed through a local two-country referendum, but first the state legislature must give the go ahead to allow the local referendum. That is not an insignificant hurdle in the very conservative, Republican controlled state government, but with much of Indy's business community, including it's chamber of commerce, supporting the tax, it may stand a chance.
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Detroit Still Awaiting Its Very Own RoboCop

Earlier this year, over 2,700 people ponied up cash through the online crowd-funding platform Kickstarter to erect a statue of the 1980s icon RoboCop in Detroit, Michigan. Plenty has been said—both good and bad—about this quest to "uphold the awesome," whether the statue will be a good or bad thing for the city struggling to regain a solid footing. Curbed Detroit recently checked in with Brandon Walley of Detroit Needs RoboCop and learned the statue could be ready to install as early as the summer of 2012. While a site for the statue must still be secured, organizers are currently awaiting the original RoboCop model to be shipped from Hollywood before the statue can be dipped in bronze. Considering that the 1987 American sci-fi action film was literally set in a near-future (you could say present-day) Detroit, and given the themes of resurrection, memories, and conflicted policies with logical fallacies, the statue likely holds more than just a nugget of nostalgia to the supporters.
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Detroit’s Most Famous Ruin to be Reborn?

Detroit’s most famous ruin, Michigan Central Depot, may soon see new life. Workers for the billionaire Maroun family have been clearing debris out of the 18-story building and a feasibility study for reusing the building is underway. Ann Arbor-based Quinn Evans Architects are among those working on the study. “Structurally, the building is very sound. What's different now from (previous attempts) is the momentum—the group of people behind this effort as well as the outreach to a wide group," principal Elisabeth Kibble, told the Detroit News. Local politicians, foundation leaders, and officials from the Detroit Institute of the Arts were recently given a tour of the space. New York-based developer Scott Griffin is working with the Marouns to find possible new uses for the building.  
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On View> Detroit Disassembled, Photographs by Andrew Moore

Detroit Disassembled: Photographs by Andrew Moore Queens Museum of Art Flushing Meadows Corona Park Queens, NY Through January15 The Queens Museum of Art (QMA) presents the powerful photography of Andrew Moore from his three-month visit to Detroit from 2008 to 2009. Moore’s photographs are a tragic yet beautiful glimpse into the decline of a city that was once the twentieth century industrial heart of America. Michigan Central Station (above) stands empty, the organ screen at the United Artists Theater is crumbling, and bright green moss covers the floor of the former Ford Motor Company Headquarters. “Moore’s exquisitely realized visions of architecture overtaken by vegetation remind contemporary viewers that our own familiar culture is subject to the forces of entropy and the eternal strength of nature,” says a statement from QMA.
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A New Cultural Light in Detroit

Among the triumvirate of Save Detroit schemes (urban farming, attracting artists, and right-sizing the city), cultural projects in some ways seem most challenging given the city's dire circumstances. Located in a formerly abandoned bank building, the new Kunsthalle Detroit will showcase multimedia and light-based artworks, a smart strategy given the comparatively low cost and ease of presenting such work. The museum opens tomorrow with an exhibition titled, "Time and Place," featuring works by Bill Viola, Tim White-Sobieski and ten other artists. "This museum brings the best in contemporary multimedia art as catered to the local population," said founder Tate Osten, in a statement. "It is ultimately a revolutionary action, bringing international art forces to Detroit. In the near future we envision multimedia and light projects splashing from within the museum onto the streets of Detroit, making life and art inseparable." Kunsthalle Detroit is located at 5001 Grand River Avenue, and will be open Tuesday through Saturday, 2 p.m. to 7 p.m. 
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Quick Clicks> Lahood Rides, High Line Booms, Detroit Blooms, Weiner Wilts

Lahood Bikes to Work: The Transportation Secretary biked to work with other DOT commuters yesterday morning, as seen in this video. He wrote, "The route was safe and well-marked; we enjoyed some exercise; and we didn’t burn a drop of gas–which saved us some money." Since taking office in 2009, the former Republican congressman has prioritized light rail development and overseen $600 million in TIGER II grants to projects that promote livability. John Norquist, president of the Congress for New Urbanism, tells us Lahood is the best Transportation Secretary this country has seen since Secretary Coleman under President Ford.

The High Line: "Economic Dynamo." The New York Times reports "preserving the High Line as a public park revitalized a swath of the city and generated $2 billion in private investment surrounding the park." The development of the High Line (the second section of which opens tomorrow) has spurred the construction of hundreds of deluxe apartments, art galleries, restaurants and boutiques nearby and the addition of 12,000 jobs, which more than make up for the $115 million the city spent on the park. Can Detroit Come Back? With a dwindling population, low literacy rates and vacant housing, Detroit is one of America's biggest underdogs. But the city's woes also make it the perfect laboratory for experiments like Hantz Farms plan to create the world's largest urban farm. OnEarth takes a look at the different ideas percolating in Detroit. Anthony Weiner on Bike Lanes: Anthony Weiner's getting some serious flack, but let's not forget: he also hates bike lanes, says Transportation Nation. At a Gracie Mansion dinner for New York’s Congressional Delegation last June, Weiner told Mayor Bloomberg: “When I become mayor, you know what I’m going to spend my first year doing? I’m going to have a bunch of ribbon-cuttings tearing out your [expletive] bike lanes.”