Detroit — City officials plan to improve the Warrendale/Cody Rouge neighborhood through a $5 million boost announced Wednesday with Huntington Bank.

The money from Huntington will pay for improvements to housing, parks and commercial corridors in the west side neighborhood, Detroit officials said. The city will finance streetscape improvements along Warren Avenue through bond money.

“It’s going to help businesses come in, it’s going to take storefronts on Warren that are vacant and get folks to move into them,” Detroit Mayor Mike Duggan said during a press conference Wednesday at the Brennan Pool at Rouge Park.

The Wednesday development follows a previous commitment by seven companies to spend $35 million in neighborhoods over five years. In addition to Huntington, other companies that have each committed $5 million to other neighborhoods are American Axle & Manufacturing, Blue Cross Blue Shield of Michigan, Chemical Bank, Fifth Third Bank, Flagstar Bank and Penske Corp.

“We did say yes in December and today we get to solidify that,” said Eric Dietz, regional president of Huntington Bank, which is based in Columbus, Ohio. He added that he's met some wonderful people in the neighborhood since the December announcement.

The Cody Rouge and Warrendale neighborhood area centers around Joy Road, Warren Avenue between Greenfield Road and Rouge Park.

The investment area is about five square miles, covers five neighborhoods and has 36,000 residents with 13,000 under the age of 18, said Sandy Pierce, senior executive vice president, private bank and regional banking director and chair of Michigan section for Huntington Bank.

“Every Detroiter deserves a safe neighborhood,” Pierce said. “A place to raise their children where they can walk to a quality school, live in an affordable home, play at fabulous playscapes. … This strategic initiative is just one piece at helping to partner and invest to ensure that every single one of those (13,000) young children … every single one of them to grow up and be whatever they want to be.”

Planning for Warrendale/Cody Rouge area is about halfway complete and has been led by a group of students. Discussions include streets and getting around, housing and apartments, businesses and jobs, parks and places for young people.  

Skylah Pounds, 16, has been involved with the planning since the beginning. She’s a member of the Cody Rouge Youth Council and one of nine teenagers tasked with analyzing existing conditions in the neighborhood and giving feedback to local leaders.

“It will have a bit impact because I’m younger person myself, so I know that young people want and what they want to see in the community,” Pounds said. “I can relay the message back to the city planners.”

The next public meeting will be 2-6 p.m. Aug. 24 at the Brennan Pool where New Jersey-based urban design firm Hector will respond to the teens' analysis of the neighborhood and provide visualizations of potential projects for streets, housing, shopping and community spaces.

Pounds is a high school senior with plans to one day work in city planning with a focus on housing. She thanked Huntington Bank for the $5 million investment.

“We need that,” she said. “We want a better community.”

The business community and groups such as the Warrendale Community Organization and the Cody Rouge Action Alliance have invested a lot of time in the area, said City Councilman Gabe Leland, who represents District 7. What was needed is more financial resources, he said.

“I think part of the reason that the city really focused on Cody Rouge, Warrendale is because we have a great housing stock, we have an incredible opportunity for the business community and we have a robust business,” Leland said. “If you go along Joy Road, along Warren Avenue, what you’ll see is a place if we just got a little shot in the arm I think a lot could happen.”

Other neighborhoods selected for funding through the $35 million Strategic Neighborhood Fund commitment are Campau/Banglatown, East Warren/Cadieux, Grand River Northwest, Gratiot/Seven Mile, Jefferson Chalmers and Russell Woods/Nardin Park.

Twitter: @CWilliams_DN

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