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Allan

DEGC Approves new east riverfront plan

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The Detroit Economic Development Corporation approved a new plan for the city's east riverfront on Wednesday. The area was once slated to be a casino district, but plans fell through. The board rejected preservationists' plans to save six city owned buildings on Franklin Street, saying that it would be more financially feasible to raze the buildings to make way for the residential district composed of 3-5 story buildings.

Read More: http://www.crainsdetroit.com/cgi-bin/news.pl?newsId=6194

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Now without a map or a rendering im sort of lost. How much of the land east of the Ren Cen will this take up? Does this also limit the possibility of residential towers being built east of the Ren Cen? Its a shame they couldnt say some of those buildings. It would give the neighborhood a lot more character.

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I'm a bit upset that the whole district will be limited to 3-5 stories. I was hoping for maybe 1 or 2 towers, about 10-15 floors to run a continuous skyline all the way toward Belle Isle. It's obvious people want to live by the river, why not put as many people there as possible? Around that can be 3-5 mixed use buildings.

EDIT: I saw a rendering of the East Riverfront not long ago in the Rencen. It dissapeared last time I was there. Maybe it was moved to another area, next time one of you are in there, look around for it.

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I remember seeing a rendering of it in the Ren Cen a while back. I have not seen it the last two times I've been in there. I usually only go in there to eat lunch though, and lately I've been eating in Campus Martius when I'm downtown.

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There's a kiosk near the center tower that has a bunch of info on projects going on in the downtown and midtown.. That was where I saw it last month. Back in early spring, their featured project was the Ellington, which showed some closeup renderings of the buildng, and what the inside was going to look like.

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Good grief. Common sense has really left Detroit a long time ago, it seems. How can sane people continue to live here? Maybe by 3 stories they mean McMansion-type like out on East Jefferson.

Ask Dominic Pangborn why he chose Iron Street (on the East Riverfront) for his studio and creation space for his design company.

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That area could have been great. Then came the casinos. All property owners there were hijacked and all plans for the area stopped. Why not have some multi-story develoment-over 3 stories. Why not integrate it into the heart of the east side of downtown- so many of those businesses down in the area have gone away when it was actually a pretty cool place to be- extending past the old Parke Davis buildings would be a nice touch too, IMO.

Peace from Will at DetroitBazaar.

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I read an article this morning in the Freep and it says that they only want 3-5 story buildings for the east riverfront. I dont understand this at all. Why not let some developers build high rises and extend the skyline all the way down to Belle Isle? I think they are trying to screw up this development.

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I think they are trying to screw up this development.

<{POST_SNAPBACK}>

Nah, they are just trying to suburbanize the city by creating one of those fake downtowns like Novi has. The city seems to think that they can create "cool" neighborhoods out of nothing.

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If you listen to the radio and hear the commercial for the Children's Hospital of Michigan, you have two suburban moms, one talking to the other that she took her child to DETROIT (said with an exclamation like, "OH MY!" to the Children's Hospital. She goes on to say how great it is because they have a greeter and there is a large parking lot so you can pull right up side the front door.

I couldn't help thing how stupid this commercial was. It was one big hidden message about the ideologies of Detroit.

How does this relate to the East Riverfront? It seems as though city leaders and officials don't mind luring in suburbanites this way by transforming the city from a rehabbed historic gem, to suburban nothingness that will only make people want to leave in the long run.

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Damn it Granholm. Keep your cool cities iniative out of Detroit.

I dont understand what they are thinking. They just reclaimed the river to make it a great place for Detroit again and now they are gonna screw it up. People move downtown for the urban setting, not a surburban setting. What say does GM have in all this?

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Damn it Granholm.  Keep your cool cities iniative out of Detroit.

I dont understand what they are thinking.  They just reclaimed the river to make it a great place for Detroit again and now they are gonna screw it up.  People move downtown for the urban setting, not a surburban setting.  What say does GM have in all this?

<{POST_SNAPBACK}>

I dont think Detriot is in ANY danger, now or ever, of becomig suburban.

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Michi,

It is sad that those sort of attitudes seem to prevail in the suburbs of Detroit. Of course, it wasn't that long ago when the neighborhood was pretty bad, so that certainly doesn't help any. In 1991 I went into Detroit Children's Hospital for a two week stay. Everyday one of my parents would come to see me. My mom was absolutely mortified to drive around there without my dad around. Upon leaving the hospital, my dad drove me around the area. To this day I still remember all those old mansions & rowhouses in Brush Park that were totally burned out. Of course most of them are gone now, as are the crackheads that used to be standing on every street corner. Things are definately much better today.

Zissou,

Only three Detroit projects got cool cities grants. The other 17 grants went to 16 other cities across the state. Detroit's projects were:

- Renovating Eastern Market's Shed No. 2 to allow an additional 50 vendors.

- Redeveloping three buildings on East Jefferson Avenue to contain 28 loft apartments, a TV studio, retail and food outlets.

- Renovating the Odd Fellows Hall located in the city's southwest Springwells neighborhood

I'm not sure how far along these projects are, or if they've even been started yet. I haven't heard anything about them in a while.

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I dont think Detriot is in ANY danger, now or ever, of becomig suburban.

This isn't entirely true. I wouldn't necessarily use the term "danger" but instead "threat". It's a fact that the city of Detroit expanded in a suburban fashion. Not the "suburban" that we think of today, but traditionally, neighborhoods were built with wealth, strong family values, traditional infrastructure, and a sense of community (everything a modern day suburb is stereotyped as not being).

Anyway, if you look at a lot of the development outside of the city's core, you'll notice and abundance of strip malls with large parking lots in their fronts (not the backs). There's a brand new medical facility on East Jefferson that, architecturally looks fantastic...other than the fact that it is set back way too far and is surrounded by a giant black fence. Big box stores have been known to gobble up land and their ass ends fronting the streets where good, healthy, hard working neighborhoods are. The people of these neighborhoods do what they are suppose to...protest...down goes their assessed home values! And for what?

Further east, Crosswinds' Jefferson Village development is the suburbs in the city. New housing? YAY...yes! But it's suburban.

HELLO!

fairmont_iv_1_508.jpg

Detroit's most important and unique asset is its banks of the Detroit River. Suburbs are found everywhere else in this gargantuous metro of 5 million people. They simply don't belong in the nucleus of the center of Michigan. And as an urban planner, I study and learn of patterns of growth and decay. People are downsizing, some coming back to the city for the urban experience. Those building massive home out in the middle of nowhere will feel the pinch when their houses age in 20 years and no one will be around to fill them. That on top of an economy that refuses to join forces and work with one another, is setting Detroit up for a doomsday.

The smartest thing to do with the east riverfront is to make it a destination for people to live and visit. A place that they want to be, that is FAR beyond the imagination of some sterile suburb. That's the one gift the riverfront is able to give. F* that up, and you've basically started a repeat of what we've been struggling with for so many years now. It blows my mind how laise faire people are taking this in Detroit.

I would like to see a panel of professionals from a collection of other major cities in the US to rate and make suggestions for the East Riverfront. I have a feeling it would all be contrary to what the leadership here is promoting.

/end rant

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:thumbsup: Fantastic post. That right there sums up what im thinking but put much much better.

I was being a little sarcastic about the cool cities thing. Just making fun of it.

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Unfortunately, Detroit is at a minimal when it comes to its choices. I think just about all of us have an idea of what we'd like for the riverfront to look like. But, right now; I think anything being down to the E. riverfront is better than what lies there currently.

One can hate Crosswinds all one wants; but, they're doing monumental things for this city. They're doing something that 5 years back would've been a death wish. And so you have to deal with Jefferson Village and some cookie-cutter townhomes. I'll take it over acres of barren lots.

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You're missing my point. I like Detroit the way it is. I even admitted that pretty much the whole city outside of the core (and even IN the core in many cases) is developed "suburban". That's all fine.

Crosswinds HAS done outstanding in and for Detroit. I can now do a back flip 50 feet in the air now that I've seen what kind of historic preservation they've done in Brush Park. But now that we've got the ball rolling, it's time to set our standards to the next level, ESPECIALLY on the riverfront. Why do you think Oakland County lakefront property is so expensive out in Bloomfield, Commerce, and White Lake? It's because the water holds an irreplacable value that plain wide open swaths of land don't.

The river is a valuable natural resource, and the man made counter part should be just the same...a valuable resource owed to the people who live and visit the city.

Why do you think the Harbortown proposals increased their planned towers from 15 stories to 30 stories? It's not rocket science! People want to live on the riverfront. They want to live in an exciting community, with interesting things to do. They WANT To pay for a product that is UNLIKE what "the suburbs" have. And on the RIVER. For once in Detroit 300 year history, we're allowing people to live on the Detroit River in a smart-growh, (hopefully in medium-to-high density proportions!) I'm not playing make-believe with my 5 year old neighbor when I say this!

That is why I have high hopes for other developers to come in and say, look Detroit, highrises are discouraged in what you are calling "a plan", but the truth is, many people are going to want to live here and spend their time here in an urban setting. The new state park and harbor is not called "Michigan's first urban state park" for nothing. They'll have to take away that name if it is surrounded by what we label as "suburban" in the near future.

*And for the Free Press to mention "gated community" made me ill. I can't believe that is even being thought of this day in age. Perhaps we in Detroit have a lot more than the rest of the country to overcome before we can comfortably live amongst each other.

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I'm not playing make-believe with my 5 year old neighbor when I say this!

Ahahaha! :rofl: Now that's how you emphasize your point!

I totally agree with you, Michi. It's possible to endure a development here and there that's suburban in nature - especially considering the condition some of these areas were previously in. But that's enough of using unique areas (riverfront, Woodward, etc.) as some kind of testing ground for developers to build crap that only resembles urban. If we're lucky, it'll take only 30 years to get these things replaced and done the right way.

There's no point in not doing it right the first time.

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ARCHITECTURE: Historic Franklin buildings may fall

Unused casinos area a challenge

From the Detroit Free Press - June 9, 2005

It sounds distressingly familiar. Preservationists are battling the City of Detroit over the fate of some old buildings. Haven't we been here before?

But, on second glance, Wednesday's debate before the city's Economic Development Corp. about the 1500 block of Franklin stood in for larger questions about Detroit's eastern riverfront, one of the city's most important sites for redevelopment.

...

In general, city planners hope for a mix of residential and commercial uses, with new buildings mostly in the three- to five-story range. High-rises will be discouraged but are possible. The final look will depend to a great degree on what private developers want to build there.

That raises fears among activists like Steve Wasko, president of the Riverfront East Alliance, that the eastern riverfront would become another bland, suburbanized row of townhouses. Certainly we'd be grateful for the development, but that kind of district would lack the vibrancy some hope to see there.

What Wasko and others want to see is something like what existed in the Rivertown district before the casino debacle emptied it out. In the 1980s and '90s, if you wanted to listen to jazz, eat at a trendy restaurant or party at a popular nightclub, Rivertown was one of the places to do it.

Good article and you can read the rest of it here

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I still dont know why high rises are discouraged. Maybe they dont realize that taller structures can hold more people? Maybe they dont want to create a cool riverfront urban environment? Maybe they dont want to enhance the city skyline? I have no idea what they are thinking down there. Just sell the land cheap to developers willing to put up interesting buildings and mid to high rise structures. That is what the riverfront needs. Im sorry, im just really frustrated with what i hear about the riverfront.

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I don't know if the riverfront land will necessarily have to be sold cheap. Developers already have a preconceived notion that riverfront property is as valuable as you can get. GM might be able to get the ball rolling with its plans for condos at River East (everything w/i Rivard Street), and that might stimulate confidence in other developers to jump on board. Harbortown's expansion can only help this effort too.

Mayor Hendrix also points out that the city needs to start cautiously pulling away from tax abatements and finding alternative ways to offer incentives. Yes, this would be an issue that we should keep a close eye on, but I would have to say I agree with him that in many cases, Detroit "could" ask for market rate conditions and when the cards are played right, the riverfront should be able to be developed with minimal exemptions.

By the way, Matt Cullen has announced River East up-and-coming media releases months ago. When is he actually planning on keeping to his word and going to present us nerds with some proposals and renderings? :)

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I believe that they could get market rate for riverfront property. My concern is that the people willing to pay that are only interested in townhomes and 5 story structures like what has been proposed already. If some big developers were really interested I think you would be seeing bigger projects.

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My concern is that the people willing to pay that are only interested in townhomes and 5 story structures like what has been proposed already.

<{POST_SNAPBACK}>

I don't know. St. Clair Shores seems to prove otherwise. It's one thing to have only 3- to 5-story building in the plans, but why should highrises be discouraged? That doesn't even make sense. Detroit should want all the new highrises they can get save for "ghettos in the sky".

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