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.