50-year blueprint for remaking Detroit revealed

Published on NewsOK Modified: January 9, 2013 at 7:21 pm •  Published: January 9, 2013

DETROIT (AP) — A 50-year blueprint for revitalizing Detroit, from leveling parts of nearly vacant neighborhoods for parks to relaxing rules for startup companies, was released Wednesday after two years of research and community input.

The project was launched by Mayor Dave Bing, who joined dozens of community, business and philanthropic leaders in unveiling the plan for the shrinking and financially troubled city. The 349-page strategic framework focuses on job growth, land use, improving neighborhoods and rebuilding infrastructure.

It doesn't include financing plans, but at least $150 million in initial funding will come over the next five years from the Kresge Foundation. The private organization, which is based in nearby Troy, has long been active in Detroit-area projects.

"It became clear to me that business as usual would not effectively transform our city, and a new framework for Detroit's future needed to be developed," Bing said Wednesday.

"As mayor of Detroit and a long-time member of this community, I've witnessed the steady decline of a city with so much promise," said Bing, a former NBA star and successful businessman in Detroit. "I'm convinced Detroit can be a world-class city again."

A major focus is on Detroit's ramshackle neighborhoods. The city — which lost a quarter-million people in the last decade — currently has at least 30,000 empty homes and 20 square miles of vacant land.

Among the report's suggestions are targeting vacant land and empty buildings for employment districts to stimulate job growth in neighborhoods. It also recommends encouraging residents living in sparsely populated neighborhoods to move out, then converting the land into open space or community gardens.

Officials said no residents would be left behind, though no mechanism is in place to pay people in those neighborhoods to move to more stable areas of the city.

The report doesn't include specific timelines for projects. For example, it suggests that zoning, land use, and other policies and rules "must be realigned" within the next five years to help the city stabilize some neighborhoods.

But organizers say the report is intended to be a guide for current and future city leaders. It's the culmination of cooperative work by city residents, business owners and others.

"The full potential of this framework will only be realized with the collective efforts and resources of everyone — public, private, philanthropic, nonprofit — all pulling together," Rip Rapson, Kresge's president and chief executive, said as he encouraged other foundations and businesses to get involved.

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