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wolverine

How important is protecting Detroit's Neighborhood History?

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We've talked so much on the forum about Brush Park's revival and renovation of its historic mansions. However, what happens in this neighborhood appears to be closely tied to the downtown (especially the stadiums).

We haven't really discussed much about the built environment of other residential neighborhoods across the city.

I was driving down Brush Street North of Grand Blvd and then drove back south on Oakland. The neighborhood is made up of duplexes and two story brick homes. IMO, it's the type of neighborhood that defines residential Detroit the best in terms of architecture and housing typology.

If we look at a satellite map of this area, it would seem that all appears well. For the most part its still dense, although losing houses at an ever increasing number.

On the ground, it appears all is not well. I saw a ton of abandonment. Some of the neighborhood's unique structures appeared to be in conditions that would make them unsalvageable. A few properties had been fixed up, but many were just barely holding on. With the current economy, high foreclosures, and continued population decline, I only see this neighborhood's future looking much worse.

So what do you think will happen with this, and other similar neighborhoods. Is it possible we'll lose almost all of it eventually, much like we lost a lot of Brush park? Or do you see the preservation of what homes are still standing before its too late?

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I think we will lose those houses at some point. It is pretty hard to keep up a house that no one is living in, regardless of urban preservation desires.

The best urban preservation program is to convince families to take a chance and move back in to these houses.

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would you and your family take a chance and move into a ghost town?

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a simple misunderstanding. I was referring to a certain neighborhood or street, where many abandoned homes line up. There's quite a few of those in Detroit.

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I think those neighborhoods will continue to decline like other neighborhoods have, until something changes and they start to rebuild. But I think those neighborhoods with good architecture and stuff will have the edge over other neighborhoods without that.

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Wolv, I can't say I know the answer, but I don't think you can compare Brush Park's fate with that of a former working class neighborhood. Brush Park was unstainable because you had basically an old mansion district that fell into a rental district with the mansions being carved up into eventually low-income housing that couldn't justify the proper upkeep of these houses. I think neighborhoods like the one you describe are in much better chances to be saved and reused as the working-class neighborhoods they were.

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Well, I'm more interested in the perservation of homes in the neighborhood North of Grand (not sure its official name) I feel that Brush Park has a better chance at being redeveloped because 1. It's close to the downtown and immediately within public eye, and 2 The mansions have stronger construction than houses in other neighborhoods. Those mansions could sit for another 50 years with little maintenance, and the walls will still stand, but homes elsewhere will fall apart after 5 years of neglect.

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That neighborhood that you are referring to is actually called "North End". It's one of the several neighborhoods initially targeted by the mayor's neighborhood revitalization initiative. There are already several new homes that have gone up in the neighborhood, though they aren't nearly of the same quality of what is already there. I would think that if Woodward ever got light rail, this would be one of the neighborhoods that would see early gentrification due to its proximity to the New Center and Downtown areas.

Here are a few pics of the different styles of housing in the neighborhood:

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These photos show exactly why I hope this neighborhood will stabilize and regain itself.

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great shots. So many gem houses in detroit. Such diversity and character on all of the streets.. hard to replicate in this area.

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Every time someone posts pictures of those houses, I just want to pack up my stuff and move down there into one. If only it were that simple.

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My dad's family lived in the North End (and I lived in that neighborhood for the first year of my life) near Melbourne and John R a block east of Woodward. Unfortunately, ours is one of the houses eventually brought down when my grandma sold it off in the late 80's. It stood for quite some time into the 90's.

It certainly does have a chance of coming back and was recently announced as one of the focus neighborhoods for revitalization by the mayor. It's also the area that will be infilled with new homes by a local developer. It's a perfect near-inner-city hood for this type of revitalization.

Ian, I never said that Brush Park didn't have a good chance of being developed, now. It's lost so much more than places like the North End, though, and is having to be basically rebuilt from scratch with a smattering of historic houses, whereas as place like the North End is still much more intact. It's much easier to reuse an old working-class neighborhood than a former inner-city mansion district, BTW, which is something extremely rare for cities of Detroit's size. That Brush Park survived for as long as it did is amazing. In most other cities it would have been an upscale apartment building district by the 1920's.

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