A development team has closed on the purchase of 128 parcels in northwest Detroit as part of a massive reinvestment in one of the city's neighborhoods.
Fitz Forward Development will develop the parcels in the Fitzgerald neighborhood as part of its plans to revitalize the area through reparations and remodels of existing historic homes, installation of a greenway, development of community gardens, and demolition of dilapidated homes.
The group comprises the City of Detroit and two Detroit-based development firms, Century Partners and The Platform. The latter has several developments currently underway, including a new practice facility for the Pistons located between New Center and Midtown, a new 207,000-square-foot mixed-use building in New Center, and the rehabilitation of four buildings near the MacArthur Bridge in Islandview.
The plan for Fitzgerald focuses on about 300 parcels of land in a quarter-square-mile of the Fitzgerald neighborhood, bounded by University of Detroit Mercy and Marygrove College on the east and west, West McNichols Road on the north, and Puritan Avenue on the south. It calls for every publicly-owned parcel in the designated area to be developed, whether by rehabbing existing homes (92 lots), installing green infrastructure like community gardens and meadows (233 lots) or demolishing homes that have been identified as beyond saving (24 lots).
Local residents and the City of Detroit collaborated on walkable network of parks for the area, including a new Ella Fitzgerald Park which will connect Greenlawn Avenue to Livernois Avenue and features a basketball court, playground, and bike repair station.
A “Fitzgerald Story House” is also planned, “to provide an accessible neighborhood center for services, resources, and historical preservation.” Fitz Forward envisions the house as a “living museum,” with an onsite office for the group’s non-profit development partner, Century Forward, which will work with residents and contractors. The group says the story house will offer a showroom that acts like a model home future residents can use to envision their future homes.
A community officer program that offers housing opportunities to Detroit police officers “interested in community policing and leadership” is also part of the development plan. Affordable housing will be made available to officers with the goal of encouraging them to become invested in community members. Four homes have already been set aside for the community officer program.
Of the 128 parcels purchased by Fitz Forward, it says 119 were bought from the Detroit Land Bank Authority.
Work on the first houses in the Fitzgerald project is expected to start this summer.