Opinion: Detroit’s comeback must happen in neighborhoods
It has been inspiring to see the transformation happening in the city of Detroit over the last several years. It seems like every day we hear about a new company moving to the city or a new development project getting underway. But for Detroit to truly thrive and succeed, restoring its neighborhoods requires the same kind of focus.
Detroit Mayor Mike Duggan has been an advocate for revitalizing and investing in the neighborhoods and laid out plans for specific areas during his recent State of the City address. We are pleased with the mayor’s vision for the city’s future but want to ensure that neighborhood revitalization isn’t limited to only certain neighborhoods. All Detroit neighborhoods deserve investment and our experience highlights that investing in an area, the outcomes are impressive.
For the past 16 years, our team at the Arab American & Chaldean Council (ACC) has been redeveloping NorthTown, formerly known as Chaldean Town and the 7 Mile Corridor, with the vision of creating a multi-ethnic cultural destination and business district. We are fully committed to transforming this one-mile radius along 7 Mile into a vibrant, walkable, livable, workable area.
ACC has proudly laid the groundwork for a neighborhood where residents and businesses can thrive. We saw the community change as we redeveloped old, deteriorating buildings into essential community resources like a health and social services outreach center and a youth center that keeps students off the streets. From our food pantry program which serves an average of 250-300 families a month to our housing project which is helping people get back on their feet when dealing with challenges, we are seeing great outcomes as a result of the efforts to revitalize this community. This reinforces what we had hoped: rejuvenating this area and setting people up for success is changing lives. Embarking on a major housing project like NorthTown will be a model for neighborhood revitalization.
NorthTown can be an example – and a catalyst – for Detroit’s future. Its location just off Interstate 75 makes it a key connector for the city’s growth. For instance, the historic Detroit Golf Club is just down the road from NorthTown and will host the Rocket Mortgage Classic, Detroit’s first-ever PGA Golf Tour, this summer. NorthTown, like so many other local communities in Detroit, is excited to welcome visitors who will be coming from near and far for the tournament, and to show them what Detroit is really all about.
The neighborhoods must be vibrant, safe and exciting communities where people want to live, work and play. While we are extremely supportive of the mayor’s neighborhood efforts, we encourage expansion of the neighborhood priority list in order to capitalize on all of the opportunity that exists all across the city. The future is bright and Detroit’s neighborhoods will be the city’s real comeback story. We can’t wait to see what happens next.
Haifa Fakhouri is president and CEO of the Arab American & Chaldean Council.