20-minute neighborhood plan takes shape in Detroit

Mayor Mike Duggan laid out neighborhood plan in May

By Guy Gordon - Reporter/Anchor , Derick Hutchinson

DETROIT - Mayor Mike Duggan laid out his 20-minute neighborhoods plan in May. The idea is pretty simple: Create neighborhoods in the city where everything residents need is within a 20-minute walk or bike ride.

The Detroit City Council approved funding for the plan, and now we're getting a first look at how it will look.

Whether it's housing, retail, transit or recreation, the 20-minute concept has four teams of city planners redesigning available land to fill in the gaps.

In the Islandview neighborhood on the east riverfront, an old rail line is being turned into a well-lit bike route and greenway to act as a catalyst for new neighborhood development. They call it the belt line.

Starting at the old Uniroyal property near Belle Isle, the rail line ran three miles to the old Packard property. The City Council has approved $600,000 for planning and design.

Phase one is expected to start construction by this time next year.

"(This) is a complement to the new housing that might happen here," said Maurice Cox, of the Detroit Planning and Development Center. "New streetscapes or in-fill development will happen because we have a really strong anchor like the belt line."

There's already a blueprint for success. The Dequindre cut near Orleans has helped spark two major residential development projects along the popular path.

The belt line intends to duplicate Dequindre with its own unique character -- more of a warehouse-district feel. They now have funding to execute the plan, so there is a higher level of confidence private development will follow.

"People are looking for alternative ways to be connected through their neighborhoods and connected to the regional assets, like the riverfront," Cox said.

The belt line will also improve stormwater management -- reducing flooding that affects hundreds of families in the area.

The belt line is one of four projects kick-started by the council's contract. Design work will begin in the Rosa Parks neighborhood, West Vernor Corridor southwest and Grand River Corridor northwest.

Sign up for ClickOnDetroit Email Newsletters (click here) for more stories like this.

Copyright 2016 by WDIV ClickOnDetroit - All rights reserved.