Can Livernois/McNichols area be the next Midtown?
Detroit — A new nonprofit backed by several major institutions wants to speed up the ongoing revitalization around the University of Detroit Mercy and Marygrove College in northwest Detroit.
The group is called “Live6 Alliance” and it’s starting with an initial $700,000 budget for the two next years supplied by the Kresge Foundation, University of Detroit Mercy and the Detroit Corridor Initiative. The name Live6 is a combination of the words Livernois and Six Mile, which is what many area residents call McNichols. The nonprofit intends to be a conduit for private, public and public resources to continue to invest in the area.
UDM’s main campus at Livernois and McNichols, is 75 acres and beautifully maintained. Across from the university’s Livernois entrance is an abandoned gas station. A mile away on Livernois is the Avenue of Fashion, once a stronghold for luxury shopping located between Seven Mile and Eight Mile that has received an infusion of cash from nonprofits and attracted entrepreneurs recently.
“It’s an extraordinary moment,” said Kresge Foundation President and CEO Rip Rapson on Monday at UDM’s campus. “Enhancing a sense of place, stabilizing the neighborhood, attracting and retaining business, improving and security — all of these things can flow from the leadership that we’re seeing from the the University of Detroit Mercy.”
Discussions to begin a non-profit to boost economic activity and coordinate efforts by community groups began nearly four years ago, said UDM President Antoine Garibaldi. Initial conversations were about beautifying the area, he said.
“The exit off the Lodge was not quite the prettiest thing to look at,” Garibaldi said, referring the freeway exit many take to get to the campus and the Livernois commercial corridor. That spurred UDM officials to help get support from the Detroit Economic Growth Corp. and Michigan Department of Transportation to fix up medians and vacant storefronts.
Live6 will initially focus on the Livernois/McNichols area from Puritan to the south; Curtis to the north, Fairfield to the east and Wyoming to the east.
Rapson said the model of Live6 , with its mix of public, private, foundation money, is Midtown Detroit Inc., the influential nonprofit that plays a major role in shaping development in the area around Wayne State University.
Live6 can take the lessons of Midtown Inc. and “fine-tune it for the (Livernois/McNichols) community.”
Ten years ago, the goals of Midtown “seemed almost grandiose,” Rapson said. “It’s sometimes tough to see how to re-imagine a place.”