As it became clear that the area to the east of the Dequindre Cut was being considered for the expansion of Eastern Market, a small team began to gather stakeholder input from residents, businesses, and institutions inside the footprint.
This summer, the Detroit Economic Growth Corporation issued an RFP to grow Eastern Market’s footprint to 250 acres. The Eastern Market Corporation had an advisory role in the process.
Before that, a loose coalition comprised of Jason Lindy, Alex Bilotta (planning student at Wayne State University), Jack Pierick (engineering student at Wayne State University), and Patrick Gamboa (planning student at Concordia University) had come together to become GEM Park. By the time they had formalized into an LLC, the group had 18 members.
“Over the time when Eastern Market 2025 was announced, stretching until the present with the announcement of the city’s request for proposal for this area, our team expanded and contracted with a variety of experts and local stakeholders each providing their unique perspective and expertise to the overall plan,” Lindy said. “An advantage to the iterative planning process is that you end up getting input and feedback from multitudes of individuals and entities ultimately building a more well-rounded perspective than might otherwise come from a small team of experts.”
Understanding the inherently iterative nature of the planning process is one of GEM Park’s strengths. Lindy stated the plan went through eight full revisions based on stakeholder feedback.
The residents voiced reasonable requests for the zone: food grown for students, an upgrade to the sewer system, and quiet hours in the late evening. Lindy and his team had solutions for their concerns, for example, constructing a green berm around the industrial facility perimeter and sinking it slightly below grade, to decrease the sounds and smells.
The GEM Park team has been incorporated in a number of bids for the space and hopes to have the opportunity to connect with the winning firm. Regardless of who wins the bid, this team’s influence will be felt.
And by 2025, the residents and proprietors within Eastern Market and the surrounding neighborhoods could be closer to living a lifestyle resembling the dream of an older Detroit fused with the walkable urbanism of the future: a new middle-class development surrounded by greenspace and industrial centers, with the ability to shop locally in a denser, cleaner, and better-planned space.