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Help Redesign Corktown’s Michigan Avenue

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The road is too damn wide!

Michigan Ave.
Michelle & Chris Gerard

Anyone who’s driven down Michigan Avenue in Corktown knows that the road is terrible. Not only is it a nightmare to drive down due to the condition of the road, but in terms of helping the neighborhood, it’s far too wide. There’s a big expanse between the homes and businesses on either side and frankly, it’s wasting space in the vibrant neighborhood.

So what do we do about it?

Human Scale Studio is launching a project called the People First Project. It’s looking for innovative ideas to change Michigan Avenue in Corktown. According to their web site:

"Michigan Avenue is Corktown’s main street, but it is also a nine-lane state highway. This harms the neighborhood’s viability by separating residents from businesses, discouraging community interaction by reducing walkability, forcing dining and retail activity indoors, diminishing public life, and preventing the energy of the neighborhood from flowing out into public spaces."

With help of a Knights Cities Challenge grant from the Knight Foundation, they’re looking for 12 people (artists, urban planners, designers) to help change that.

Those 12 people selected will receive $5,000 "to design and implement a transformative project that utilizes the principles of human-centered design to transform Michigan Avenue into a more complete street."

These are smaller ideas that could be put into use quickly. Some examples are shown on their web site.

The deadline to apply is July 10 at 11:59pm. Those applying (and who win) must commit to these conditions:

Selected project leaders will be required to attend a monthly education series in Detroit throughout the remainder of 2016.

Selected projects must be implemented from August-December 2016.

Selected project leaders must be prepared to appear in a documentary and magazine with national distribution.

Selected project leaders must be available for a half-day training that will occur within the July 25-27 range. No exceptions. Specific details will be shared upon acceptance.

So Curbed Detroit readers, do we have any urban planners who are willing to give it a shot? What sort of projects would you suggest to help the neighborhood?