Earlier this week marked a significant moment in the civic commons effort in Detroit as work commenced on two new civic assets that will support neighborhood revitalization in Livernois-McNichols.
Detroit Mayor Mike Duggan, Kresge Foundation President Rip Rapson, University of Detroit Mercy President Antoine Garibaldi and Prairie Street Block Club President Darnetta Banks gathered on Tuesday, October 17 in the Fitzgerald neighborhood with residents and partners for the groundbreakings of Ella Fitzgerald Park and HomeBase.
The park represents the transformation of publicly owned vacant lots into a two-acre green gathering place, while HomeBase is a new community center for collaboration and civic engagement that will house local planning and development organization, Live6, University of Detroit Mercy’s Detroit Collaborative Design Center and City of Detroit staff members in a storefront location on McNichols Road.
Rejuvenating civic life
The excitement of residents on the anticipated return of a civic center in the community can be seen in Prairie Street Block Club president, Darnetta Banks, remarks at the ceremony. “I remember the community council when we would have parades, picnics and other special events given for and by the residents of this area. The Ella Fitzgerald Park is just the beginning of things to come,” said Banks. “We are standing on tip-toe anticipation awaiting the completion of this facet of the full project.”
Much more to come
The park and HomeBase are just two aspects of the multi-faceted approach to the Fitzgerald neighborhood revitalization. Work by partners will also include the transformation of vacant lots into a greenway with a series of neighborhood hubs, the rehabilitation of 115 vacant homes and conversion of nearly 200 vacant lots into productive landscapes, and the reactivation of commercial corridors with new retail as well as façade and streetscape improvements.