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Detroit’s biggest development news of 2016

Michelle & Chris Gerard

As we count down the final days of 2016, it’s time to look back on all that happened in Detroit development over this past year. For a while there, it seemed like there was a new development announcement every day. We’ve already looked forward to what we should see in 2017, and we feel like 2018 will be HUGE in Detroit. But before we get there, let’s see where we’ve been.

The Year Transit Failed...Again

Fans of Bus Rapid Transit and reliable public transportation options were disappointed yet again in Metro Detroit. The RTA vote failed in November, which means we have another two years to plan again. Will Macomb County be involved next time around? Can we plan better ways to get around the city? Will Metro Detroit ever pass a strong transit proposal? While we look forward to the M-1 Rail opening in early 2017, you can literally only get so far down Woodward.

The Year of Street Planning

Detroit has wide open streets, and this year we saw an increase in bike lanes and planning how to best use these streets. We saw bike lanes for miles down Livernois, added bike lanes on Michigan Avenue that confused the heck out of people, a reworking of a horrible intersection, and a celebration of Open Streets.

Exploring Open Streets Detroit Michelle & Chris Gerard

The Year of 20-Minute Neighborhoods

This past spring, Mayor Mike Duggan talked about his vision for 20-minute neighborhoods in Detroit. Since then, we’ve seen added effort in West Village, Southwest, and Fitzgerald in terms of walkability, stronger housing stock, more retail, and reuse for vacant lots. Recently, more areas were awarded funds to start planning for this idea. We know a lot of people want to see more work in the neighborhoods, and we hope that in the coming years, this kind of work happens across the city.

The Year of a Little More (but not enough) Retail

In the coming years, it looks like Woodward downtown will be a corridor for retail. That’s great! We’re just impatient at this point. This year, we saw the addition of a Nike Store, Kit & Ace, Warby Parker, Detroit is the New Black, Vault of Midnight, and more. Under Armour will be opening at some point, and there are plenty more storefronts to be filled. It looks like New Center could also become a shopping district. We also saw plenty of small businesses open in other parts of the city. We really look forward to the day when we can tell you for sure that we’ll get a big grocery store or Target in a central location.

The Year of What’s to Come

It seemed like this year was the year of smaller projects opening and anticipating larger ones. We saw the building and opening of the Scott at Brush Park, renovated storefronts in Corktown and West Village, the opening of the Forest Arms Apartments, and more. But this year we watched the Arena take shape, the M-1 rail construction finishing up and testing started, work starting on the Book Tower and David Stott Buildings, work starting on the long-vacant James Scott Mansion, the ground breaking for the massive City Modern in Brush Park, and many hotel projects in the works. We’ll see some of these bigger projects open next year, but as we said, 2018 could be big.

The Year of What Could Be

Earlier this year, Dan Gilbert and Tom Gores discussed their intentions for Detroit to get a Major League Soccer team and to build a stadium for that team. At this point, we still don’t have a team or a place for that stadium (although they’d like that jail site, and we should know the outcome of that soon). A major bill for transformational development projects that would help out some of the major developers stalled in Lansing at the end of the year. How will this impact the Hudson’s site, which will be one of the most important developments to take shape in 2017?

The Year of Creative Housing

Detroit is still a place where you can start inspired projects, and we wanted to note a few that we admired. First, there’s a neighborhood of tiny homes being built for the homeless and/or low-income population by Cass Community Social Services. They’re working in an area that has land available, and they’ve renovated some apartment buildings nearby and are working to build 20+ more. Also, we’ve been watching True North, a community of Qunoset huts, develop off of Grand River near Warren. We were skeptical at first, but we’ve turned into believers and this could be one of the more interesting housing options in Detroit in 2017.

And what do we want from 2017? Our readers have a wish list here.