Detroit — Mayor Mike Duggan said Monday he’s tapped an associate dean from Tulane University’s School of Architecture to lead the city’s planning efforts.

The appointment of New York native Maurice Cox as planning director comes almost a week after Duggan stressed during his second State of the City speech the importance of getting a planner on board for Detroit.

Duggan says Cox will be charged with developing strategies to strengthen existing neighborhoods in Detroit and land reuse in largely vacant areas, including green infrastructure and urban agriculture efforts. He will be paid $147,500-a-year plus benefits, documents say.

Cox currently serves in a dual position as director of the Tulane City Center, a city-based design resource center for New Orleans, and an associate dean for community engagement at the Tulane University School of Architecture, where he facilitates a wide range of partnerships between Tulane University, the New Orleans Redevelopment Authority and the city of New Orleans.

He previously was design director of the National Endowment for the Arts in Washington, D.C., where he led the selection of NEA design grants and leadership programs, the mayor’s office said.

In a statement released Monday, Duggan praised Cox as a perfect fit for the position.

“We continue to build an administration that represents a mix of the best talent from Detroit and around the country,” Duggan said. “Adding a planning director the caliber of Maurice Cox will strengthen our efforts to improve all of Detroit’s neighborhoods.”

Cox’s appointment requires City Council approval. Until then, Cox is expected to begin immediately on a part-time basis until May, when he completes his last semester at Tulane.

The Duggan administration said the last permanent director was Robert Anderson, who left under Mayor Dave Bing in November 2013.

Cox formerly taught at the University of Virginia and held public office as a council member and mayor for Charlottesville, Virginia, from 1996-2004.

Under his leadership, Charlottesville completed several urban design initiatives, including the passage of an award-winning zoning ordinance in support of mixed-use, pedestrian-oriented development; new infill residential neighborhoods and mixed-income, higher-density housing; and the design of a new, two-mile, federally funded parkway entrance into the city.

Cox said he hopes to build from the uniqueness of Detroit while bringing new ideas that represent the best of what he’s seen and done elsewhere.

“Detroit has a once in a lifetime opportunity to re-imagine the American city, transforming an abundance of land into a valuable community asset,” Cox said in a statement. “We can take advantage of Detroit’s many historic neighborhoods to create new urban housing anchored by revitalized commercial corridors, parks and greenways, all working together to enhance the quality of life in this city for everyone.”

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