The 11 types of Detroit neighborhoods

The Community Development Advocates of Detroit (CDAD) released a Neighborhood Revitalization Strategic Framework last February that breaks the city down into 11 kinds of neighborhoods, zones, or sectors, and recommends a different mix of techniques in each of them.

Samuel Butler, who co-chaired a CDAD Futures Task Force, says the framework — the product of more than a year of analysis and discussion — is one of the models that city officials can learn from as they carry out the “Detroit Works Project” to put the city on a more stable footing.

Here are some of CDAD’s neighborhood classifications:

Urban Homestead Sector: A family lives in a large, older home surrounded by a natural landscape, growing vegetables to sell at a farmers’ market. In return for giving up services such as street lights, the homeowner would get lower taxes (in exchange for experimenting with alternative energy and, where possible, using well water).

Naturescape: A low-maintenance, managed natural landscape with formerly pipe-encased creeks reexposed, offering new opportunities for recreation. Devoid of human homes but supporting wildlife, natural areas help to filter air and water pollutants.

Green Venture Zone: Vacant land and empty industrial buildings converted to fish hatcheries, hydroponic and aquaculture centers, rehabilitated warehouses, and other uses. No one lives here, but nurseries, small market farms, and other enterprises create hundreds of jobs.

Spacious Residential Transition Zone: A sector containing detached houses, vacant lots, blight, and fire damage; it would offer very large side lots and back yards. “New housing and commercial development is restricted or prohibited.” In five years, the neighborhood is reassessed to determine whether it is moving in the direction of Naturescape, Green Venture Zone, or Urban Homestead Sector.

Village Hub: All-in-one neighborhood hub offering housing, shopping, and entertainment with a small main-street feel. Mixed-use development is centered on an intersection or possibly a single street.

City Hub: A high-density citywide center for employment, entertainment, and culture, with high-rise and mid-rise buildings, receiving priority for regional rail and bus service. Major thoroughfares are intersected by several walkable side streets featuring mixed-use shops and stores.

Green thoroughfare: Section of a commercial corridor that was five to 10 lanes wide; it will be reinvented as a “green gateway” to nearby neighborhoods or other sectors of the city. These wide, well-lighted travel corridors, abounding with trees and other low-maintenance foliage, would have their commercial and industrial development restricted — steered instead to City Hubs, Village Hubs, and downtown.

CDAD’s neighborhood typology model makes it easier to discuss the condition and prospects of sections of the city without inflaming people’s emotions. “You don’t want to come into a neighborhood and say ‘your neighborhood has failed,’” Butler explains. “We didn’t want to make it judgmental.”

The goal, he says, is to show that the city can offer “a whole gamut of choices: high-rise downtown, small-town main street, country living in the city, etc. Reinforcing and sometimes initiating density is a primary goal of the CDAD initiative.”

He adds: “Detroit has always been a city of neighborhoods.” Village Hubs, he notes, would benefit from introducing “a lot of neighborhood amenities that are lacking right now. … There are opportunities for walkability, mixed-use.”

Posted by Robert Steuteville on 26 Oct 2010