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North Corktown Green Mobility Corridor

A green mobility corridor that will connect people to each other, to green spaces, and provide a balance to future development.

Photo of Sarah Hayosh
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Background: North Corktown has faced the significant challenges of most Detroit neighborhoods-disinvestment, population loss, and loss of urban fabric. The distinguishing features of North Corktown in 2019 are also its greatest assets: resident engagement, a strong and growing neighborhood association with a plan for the future, and expansive open space in close proximity to Corktown, Downtown, Woodbridge, and Southwest Detroit.

The North Corktown Neighborhood Association (NCNA) has been engaged for the last six years to create a sustainable and equitable future neighborhood with a place for everyone. We want to be the cleanest, greenest, healthiest neighborhood in Detroit, keeping longtime residents while welcoming new neighbors.

Despite decades of disinvestment, our resourceful residents have created and nurtured unique spaces and cultural amenities; artist studios, community gardens, farms, pocket parks, and resident-led green space and public art projects dot our landscape. Our adopted neighborhood mascot is a pheasant, as urban pheasant families also call North Corktown home.

A shared priority of our residents is preservation of open space, a significant challenge when considering the development pressure faced by a neighborhood in close proximity to Downtown, Corktown, and the new Ford investment. In response, the NCNA has worked with residents to create a sustainable development vision, open space development guidelines and urban design standards. A committee of neighborhood residents has been meeting over the past year to plan for the creation of a green corridor through North Corktown that would improve mobility by preserving, enhancing, and linking parks and green spaces in our community to our neighbors throughout the Michigan Central Station Impact Area. 

We are seeking funding to build a demonstration project to pilot the green mobility corridor concept to engage stakeholders and contribute to the design and development plans. 

We imagine a green corridor that weaves through our neighborhood, creating a simple solution for residents and visitors, young and old to safely play, exercise, and travel. There are many studies that show people in low-income communities and communities of color suffer disproportionately from the effects of physical inactivity. The development this green mobility corridor would provide a unique recreational opportunity to all, no matter their age and ability, to move around, explore the out of doors and to connect with their neighbors. This will increase the social, mental and physical health of our community. 

We imagine a corridor that connects our beloved community farms, gardens, and other key public spaces, enhancing and creating new opportunities for community connections and relationship building. We imagine a corridor that incorporates new ecological landscape typologies that support the health of the larger ecosystem, from creating bird habitat to support a vital flyway and native landscapes that support pollinators on the brink of extinction. We imagine a corridor with shared green stormwater infrastructure practices that ensure new development doesn’t adversely impact our combined sewer system, in turn supporting the essential health of the Detroit River and Great Lakes watershed. 

Some have asked “why not just focus on improving the sidewalks and bike lanes?”   We want to create something more unique and inspirational than an improved streetscape. We have a historic opportunity to rethink urban neighborhood development.  We want to create a place where residents and visitors can connect with nature, meet neighbors while they garden, discover a new art installation, or just sit on a bench and listen to the birds and the wind. It’s the small acts of making a neighborhood welcoming and inviting to residents and visitors alike that can make it great. The development of the green mobility corridor will make North Corktown a more desirable place to live, work and play. When you invest in inspirational public spaces, additional economic benefits and development will follow. We need Ford’s partnership to help us execute this vision for healthy mobility in a truly equitable 21st century neighborhood.

How will your solution benefit residents, workers, or visitors in the Michigan Central Station impact area? (1,000 characters)

Brianna grew up in North Corktown (NoCo)and her mother still lives here. She remembers cutting through blighted vacant lots as a kid on her way to school. She would like a safe and beautiful off-street route for kids to walk and bike to school and to be able to play outdoors. After Phil retired, he moved to NoCo. He would like to see more development, but wants to protect the open feel and views in the neighborhood. He would like to see more stormwater management for new development and habitat for wildlife. Tiffany has lived in NoCo for over two decades, in the Fountain Court Housing Co-op on the west side of the neighborhood. She walks daily to keep stress and health conditions in check, and would like a more beautiful pathway. John works at Ford’s Corktown campus and commutes in. He admires the urban design of Lafayette Park, especially how the buildings frame the public green space. If there was a housing development like that in NoCo, he would move there in a heartbeat!

Describe your solution's stage of development

  • Initial Design - you are still exploring the idea and have not tested it with users

Insights from previous testing (500 characters)

For the past year, a Green Corridor Committee of the NCNA has been meeting and engaging with neighborhood residents to develop a shared vision of the green mobility corridor. We have developed a number of route scenarios and revised them to the current draft. We organized a walk through and gained to assess current site conditions. We have met with representatives from the City PDD and Parks, as well as the DLBA to update them on the planning process and gain their feedback.

Tell us about your team or organization (500 characters)

North Corktown Neighborhood Association (NCNA) is the group that represents and organizes residents, business owners, and stakeholders within the boundaries of the North Corktown neighborhood. NCNA is proposing this project and will lead project direction and manage community engagement. Tactical site demonstration and art installations will be supported by project partners Detroit Future City and Design Core Detroit.

Size of your team or organization

  • 11-50

Team or Organization URL

Are you submitting as a student team?

  • No

Are you submitting as a team from the Impact Area?

  • Yes

Funding Request

  • $100,000

Rough Budget (500 characters)

Total: $75,000 Breakdown: Community Engagement and Events $12,000 Landscape Design + Planning Services $10,000 Art Installations – $25,000 Site Prep, Tactical Site Amenities + Supplies $20,000 Project Management $8,000

Describe how you would pilot your idea (1000 characters)

Our team will pilot the green mobility corridor through the tactical installation and programming of a sample area along the proposed route of the corridor. We will build a demonstration project and utilize creative methods of engagement to gather stakeholder feedback on design, route, and amenities. We will coordinate the construction of art installations along the pilot corridor area, through a public call for design proposals and via partnerships with local design and architecture schools. The temporary site and art installations will be exhibited contemporaneous with series of programmed events designed for engagement and enjoyment of the space. The pilot project will inspire visitors to see beyond the vacant lots and imagine the potential for a green corridor to enhance the social, cultural, ecological and transportation network of our community.

Describe how you would measure the success of your pilot (1000 characters)

We hope to spark curiosity, bring attention to the corridor vision, and gain additional supporters through the pilot installation and programming of the green mobility corridor. A successful project would gain positive feedback from the community and stakeholders (via engagement and feedback methods) and increased support from neighbors and institutions who can assist our effort to execute the neighborhood vision. The Detroit Planning and Development Department has been a valuable partner and the NCNA has facilitated regular communication with the department to keep them informed of our neighborhood planning efforts. A successful pilot project would help build to concrete partnerships with the City, community stakeholders and philanthropy to create a plan to work together to realize a shared vision for a green mobility corridor in North Corktown.

Sustainability Plan (500 characters)

Our team is pursuing additional funding opportunities to support the development a preliminary feasibility plan and outline a strategy for fundraising, land control, design, construction, and long term management and maintenance. The NCNA is currently exploring a plan to create a neighborhood based CDC to participate in neighborhood development, develop funding and resources for implementation and stewardship of a green corridor and additional green spaces in the community.


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Photo of Tricia  Talley

I love the Green Mobility Corridor, it's an innovative use of urban land that will benefit current and new residents.

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