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Detroit Future City

Plan suggests new uses for Detroit's vacant land and existing economic opportunities

The Strategic Framework Plan for Detroit's "healthy and vibrant future" is complete, and the plan will serve as a blueprint for the economic, social and physical redevelopment of Detroit. According to Associate Professor of Architecture Dan Pitera, who with UDM's Detroit Collaborative Design Center led the community engagement process, the plan will help guide the city's future in six key areas: economic growth, city systems (water, electricity, transportation), land use, public land, neighborhoods, civic engagement.

"The plan is designed to amplify and realign existing efforts and assets that are in place," said Pitera.

The long-term plan blends respondents' ideas with research and data. It establishes metrics and goals around 14 quality of life categories, which include jobs, education, transportation and health.

"Our economy has been perceived as being a single economy—the auto industry," Pitera said. "However, it's much more poly- economic. There are four economic clusters driving the region's economy. We have the ninth largest education and medical sector in the country, along with a new economy, targeted industry and local entrepreneurs."

One example of targeted industry is food system development, which includes urban farming, locally produced food products, and food distribution.

"We need the mechanisms in place to allow all industries to survive," Pitera noted. "For example, the city has no zoning for farms. Many respondents called for a unified economic development plan with the proper zoning and a unified method of doing civic engagement. There needs to be a better method to coordinate agencies so they work together," Pitera said.

For land use, there is a set of building blocks to reshape neighborhoods rather than eliminate them. The building

blocks offer a variety of residential types (apartments, condos, single-family homes) several industry configurations (retail, light industry, "green" industry), and various landscape features (farms, fields, trees, ponds). Some of the urban ponds could expand across blocks of empty neighborhoods, providing an attractive water feature and storm drainage.

"The plan won't be judged by economic growth alone; it contains elements to improve the quality of life of all Detroiters," he added. "The intrinsic value is that it is a plan by Detroiters for Detroit."

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