Rooftop garden planned for Detroit Zen Center in Hamtramck

Hamtramck community plans 2,500-square-foot public green roof

Detroit Zen Center.
Detroit Zen Center.

HAMTRAMCK, Mich. – The Detroit Zen Center plans to build a green roof this spring on its building in Hamtramck. 

Plans call for the rooftop garden to be open to the public, along with a new rain garden and tea house on the ground level of the center, which is located at the corner of Casmere and Mitchell streets. 

The Michigan Economic Development Corporation approved a $50,000 matching grant for the project. The Zen Center now has until Dec. 15 to meet the match. You can donate here.

The project is designed to be a model solution for flooding in the surrounding neighborhood. The Zen Center itself has spent $25,000 since 1990 replacing storm sewers and installing backup valves to keep its buildings dry. Some floods would bring 3 feet of water into the building's basement, requiring significant effort to clean -- only to have it flood over and over until the needed, expensive repairs were made. 

Green roofs and rain gardens are two ways to absorb rain instead of having it run off rooftops or other hard surfaces and pool in streets and alleys. Green roofs also insulate the building and create a native landscape for birds, bees, butterflies and people. 

The Zen Center plans to work with the XeroFlor and Michigan State University's Green Roof Research students to install and grow the 2,500-square-foot green roof, which will be structurally sound to seat up to 15 people. Organizers envision a neighborhood gathering space and room to host community events. 

Here is a sketch of the project: 

The Detroit Zen Center, established in 1990, moved to its current location in 1993. The former Polish wedding hall, speakeasy and three-story residence -- built in the 1920s by the Plewa brothers -- is now a public meditation center and home to Living Zen Organics. 

People can support the community project by contributing toward the $50,000 match here. They can also attend an art auction Tuesday at the Robert Kidd Gallery, 107 Townsend St., in Birmingham.

The deadline to give is Dec. 17. 

Learn more about green roofs here