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The Mayor’s Vision for 20-Minute Neighborhoods

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Can you get what you need in a 20 minute walk?

Michelle & Chris Gerard

In Mayor Mike Duggan’s keynote address at the Mackinac Policy Conference a couple weeks ago, he laid out his vision for 20-minute neighborhoods in Detroit. These would be neighborhoods where you could walk or bike 20 minutes from your home to get whatever you need.

For those of us who live here, that seems like a pipe dream.

Duggan talks about this plan for three neighborhoods to start: Fitzgerald around McNichols/Livernois, Southwest near Clark Park, and West Village. How do you use vacant land in these neighborhoods to make it work? In his address (see video below), he describes his plan for this conversion in the Fitzgerald neighborhood:

  1. Renovate homes with federal affordable housing funds that would normally go toward apartments (70 houses in the Fitzgerald neighborhood). This affordable housing would give families a chance to live in these neighborhoods.
  2. Build a greenway through vacant lots (much like the Dequindre Cut) to connect the neighborhood and make it easier for residents to ride or walk through.
  3. Add beauty to neighborhood by turning vacant lots into wildflower meadows or orchards or gardens.
  4. Renovate vacant apartment buildings to add density and build affordable student housing.
  5. Improve streetscapes in medians.
  6. Add protected bike lanes to increase modes of transportation.
  7. Add retail in adjacent commercial corridors.

(The talk about these neighborhoods starts at 11:30)

So what do you think, Curbed readers? With so much talk around Midtown, Downtown, and anything around the M-1 rail, is this a viable plan to improve Detroit’s neighborhoods? Can Detroit neighborhoods become more walkable? And what basic needs are missing from these ideas?