Campau/Davison/Banglatown Neighborhood Framework Plan
Architect: Interboro Partners
Owner: City of Detroit, MI, Planning and Development Department
Location: Detroit, MI
Like many of Detroit’s neighborhoods, the Campau/Davison/Banglatown area has seen significant disinvestment and experienced radical depopulation. While it faces seemingly overwhelming challenges in the form of large tracts of vacant land, broken sidewalks, and unrepaired potholes, a closer inspection reveals innovative practices that eschew traditional narratives.
Campau/Davison/Banglatown represents one of the most diverse areas of Detroit, and large African-American and Polish communities have long called it home. Recent immigrants from Bangladesh and Yemen have further diversified it. The area boasts a bustling economic corridor and desirable neighborhoods where a growing number of artists, urban farmers, and entrepreneurs have taken up residence. Homes and businesses have begun to spread out, annexing vacant lots to serve regular needs—as lawns and driveways, for example—or develop something more strategic, such as a sprawling network of backyard gardens.
All of those factors have resulted in a quiet resurgence for the area and understanding the unique land-use patterns there required the team to spend time exploring and conversing with residents. For a year, the team leveraged communication and innovative engagement methods, such as an ice cream truck that traded scoops for participation, to build a feedback loop comprising the planners, the city, and the community.
This plan was driven by the community and includes strategies for improving the neighborhoods’ streetscapes, open space, housing, and economic development. Those priorities are synthesized into a holistic framework that identifies projects and improvements that can be implemented in the immediate future. Executed for a relatively modest fee, the plan highlights millions of dollars of potential investments.
Building on the creative practice the community has constructed, despite decades of disinvestment, the final plan outlines strategies to support and bolster existing community nodes in an effort to spur more social resilience in the area. Its key components include a “catalytic corridor” that better connects the eastern and western sections of the area, expanding the city’s Land Bank Authority program that allows residents to purchase vacant lots, and tactical preservation of a number of important structures.
This plan, one of a number initiated by Detroit’s progressive leadership to heal its relationship with residents, represents a roadmap for enhancing everyday life and strengthening neighborhoods. It has exceeded the city’s near-term objectives and set a new standard for what residents should expect from the planning process.
"...an important and compelling model for urban revitalization with true community participation at the center of a thorough and time-based analysis of strategic changes to policy that can help transform an economically challenged neighborhood without relying/waiting on a large influx of investment (and avoiding the trap of developers as economic catalysts)." - Jury comment