When the uprisings of summer 1967 swept through Detroit, the unrest decimated an east-side tobacco shop.
Today, a community-centered nonprofit is aiming to convert the spot on Mack Avenue where the business once stood into a destination to unite residents through arts, culture, food and recreation.
To finalize its Mack Lot project, which is part of a larger effort to create a pedestrian-friendly corridor, the nonprofit MACC Development has been working to find funds. This weekend, group officials are slated to gain a windfall through Pitch for Detroit 2017.
The one-day sports tournament led each year by the Jewish Federation of Metropolitan Detroit’s NEXTGen Detroit division has picked MACC as its recipient. Participants hope to raise $20,000 for the group by playing kickball Sunday at Wayne State University.
For a group that depends on grants and outside support, the funding could be key in completing a major project.
“It’s really just a highlight of what can happen when a community comes together and says: ‘This is what we want here,’ ” said Ezekiel Harris, executive director of MACC Development.
His group is the latest beneficiary of Pitch for Detroit, which coordinators estimate has generated more than $250,000 since 2010 to boost projects across the Motor City.
Formed by the Mack Avenue Community Church, MACC Development works to revitalize Detroit’s 48214 ZIP code through efforts centered on youth, education, housing and economic development.
The lot project connects to a larger Mack Avenue Corridor Development Plan that MACC Development is leading with residents, business owners and community groups to transform a 13-block stretch.
To overhaul the lot, MACC leaders envision much for the 8,000-square-foot vacant parcel between the group’s building and D&D Storage, where the business once stood.
Following input from the community, designs call for a central performance stage; a long table to anchor communal gatherings; a play area for children; rain gardens; and an outdoor seating space dovetailing with The Commons, a coffee bar/coin laundry slated to operate in MACC Development’s new building.
“Mack Avenue used to be a thriving corridor and today it sits with a lot of vacancies. But a lot of people are still living in the neighborhood,” Harris said. “With this fundraiser, we’re really trying to reinvigorate the community and create a space where people can come together, get to know one another.”
MACC’s work impressed NEXTGen members “as having a really admirable goal and adding tangible benefits to the neighborhood,” which made it a natural choice for the Pitch tournament, said Jordan Weiss, vice president of outreach and engagement.
“We all absolutely want the best, and are doing everything we can to support organizations that want Detroit to be the best it can be,” Weiss said. “That’s why we’re really excited about putting this event on.”
Pitch for Detroit 2017
When: 9:30 a.m.-4 p.m. Sunday at Wayne State University in Detroit
For more information or to donate: www.pitchfordetroit.com