Case Studies

The Artist Village serves as a creative hub for artists, students, business owners, and neighbors living and working in the heart of Old Redford. A once abandoned commercial strip serves as the center of the village and houses the historic Redford Theatre, a small coffee shop, vintage clothing store, and an art education program. It hosts live music, poetry jams, church service, summer art camps, and additional community events throughout the year. The spirit and history of the neighborhood is shared through illustrative murals painted on each building and via colorful stories swapped...
Boyne City Main Street is a volunteer-driven organization led by an appointed board, a full-time Main Street manager, and supportive leadership from community institutions such as the public school system, the Chamber of Commerce and city government. It focuses its efforts around the National Trust for Historic Preservation’s Main Street Four-Point Approach®: promotion, design, organization, and economic restructuring. Boyne City was one of the first communities to participate in the program under the auspices of the Michigan Main Street Center and it has been...
While other Detroit recreational centers have closed and struggled, this grassroots, nonprofit coalition has grown to offer positive activities for nearly a thousand neighborhood youth each year. The Clark Park Coalition now offers one of the nation’s only free inner-city hockey programs, as well as quality soccer, baseball, softball, and tennis activities, in addition to providing summer and after-school youth programming.
A continuing downturn in the economy and shifting populations has created a cycle of decline in older cities like Detroit. Nuisance properties are not merely vacant eyesores but lay in stark disrepair, which often attracts and facilitates criminal activity. These dangerous properties are subject to action by the community at large because they create a nuisance that threatens the viability of an entire neighborhood rather than simply impacting the house next door. Looking for a means to assist community groups grappling with vacant properties, the Michigan Municipal League and Michigan...
Formerly a Grand Trunk Western Railroad line, the Dequindre Cut is a below-streetlevel path that runs parallel to St. Aubin Street just north of the Detroit Riverfront. The first completed section of the Dequindre Cut is between Woodbridge Street and Gratiot Avenue. The greenway features a 20-foot-wide paved pathway, which includes separate lanes for pedestrian and bicycle traffic, and proposed light rail. The path became a huge success story for the city: Naysayers claimed it wouldn’t be safe and no one would use it, but people started using it before it was even finished. Today the...
In its third season, the league consists of teams representing 28 Detroit neighborhoods with nearly 800 registered participants, over 80 percent of whom are city residents. At the outset, the primary goal of the league was to bring people together from diverse Detroit neighborhoods in a fun, healthy way, reaching beyond traditional community organizing focused on fighting blight or crime. A secondary desire of the league was to promote and market these various neighborhoods.
A public/non-profit partnership to 1) preserve the area’s maritime heritage, 2) obtain waterfront property and views for the public trust, 3) advance the city’s cultural economic development goals and 4) benefit the city as a regional hub for the arts, in conjunction with their renovated downtown theater. The regional arts community has two galleries and three classroom spaces for art, music, literature, dance and exercise classes, as well as a professional test kitchen for the culinary arts. The venue is rented for receptions several times a week and proceeds are used to sustain...
Hatch aims to promote a more vibrant urban community by empowering local niche retail businesses with the capital and support they need to succeed and grow. Up-and coming innovators have the opportunity to showcase their new retail concepts to business experts, who then select a winner to receive a grant of $50,000 and additional startup resources to launch the storefront. Ideas of all stages abound in Detroit, and the contest provides an opportunity for the entrepreneurial community to give back and highlight the city’s emerging talent.
The Historic Hubbard Farms neighborhood struggled with a rise in petty property crimes and home invasions, in particular vagrants who preyed on vacant houses for either scrapping or squatting. Residents, frustrated by poor police response times, utilized free flash mob cell phone technology to mobilize themselves to help one another and secure vacant properties in their community.

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