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Urban Decay and Rebirth: Detroit's Brush Park

It's never too late for a neighborhood to turn things around. Once a prime example of Detroit urban blight and decay, Brush Park has finally reached its tipping point after several failed redevelopment efforts. Could a rebirth happen in inner city Jacksonville?

Published October 19, 2010 in Learning From      16 Comments    Open printer friendly version of this article Print Article


feature

Quote
"In the not to distant future, a light rail line will be running down Woodward Avenue past the DIA," said Detroit Mayor Dave Bing.

The project pegged to cost $500-million dollars will give bus riders another option.

"I think it's beautiful. I think once that gets done it will make it very convenient for the people who ride the buses," said John Niles.

"It would help them get to work fast because a lot of people depend on the public service to get to work," said Darlene Rickett.

A private group called M-1 Rail raised $125-million for the city's matching share of the funds, and the project also got $25-million in federal stimulus money. U.S. Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood praised Mayor Bing for pressing for the 9.3 mile project.

"Thank you mayor for having a large vision for Woodward Avenue," said LaHood.

Proponents of the light rail project argue public transportation is essential to spur economic growth and development in Detroit.

"From my prospective, in addition to the 9.3 miles, this will also connect with our high speed rail plans to be able to connect to Chicago, to Pontiac, and then a commuter rail from here to Ann Arbor," said Governor Jennifer Granholm.
http://www.myfoxdetroit.com/dpp/news/local/detroit-rail-line-about-to-clear-hurdle-20100802-mr




Brush Park is located along Woodward Avenue between downtown Detroit and Midtown.



What Does This Means for Urban Jacksonville

The rebirth of Brush Park illustrates what can happen when a community clusters historic preservation, walkable infill and public infrastructure investment together. Despite what some may think about the current condition of urban Jacksonville, there are no local neighborhoods that have fallen as low as Brush Park.However, its renaissance in the heart of a city that has had continuous population loss since the 1950s suggests that with dedication and the right planning, anyneighborhood can come back to life.

Article by Ennis Davis








16 Comments

duvaldude08

October 19, 2010, 09:55:24 AM
Wow. This is actually sad. Kind of reminds me of the state of despair springfield was in.

jaxlore

October 19, 2010, 11:14:50 AM
It is but I still love that city. There are so many historic homes and buildings just decaying. Its very sad, and this mentality of destroying all these places is ridiculous.The transportation there is light years ahead of here. We took a bus to a club one night at around 10pm and were able to catch a bus back to near our hotel at 2:30a! We didn't have to rent a car the whole time we were there.

momowithamic

October 19, 2010, 06:09:22 PM
Are there any people or groups in Detroit who are against the rebirth of Brush Park? 

strider

October 19, 2010, 06:24:22 PM
Seems to em that Detroit has had a hard way to go since the early 70's when the big three started moving plants out of the area pretty regularly. And yet, they have street car. Amazing.

While this area was much smaller and also much wealthier than what we have left of Historic Springfield ever was, please note the "what we have left".  One mansion left is now owned by the Masons, the old Barnett house.  Another, owned last by a politically active doctor, is now Alco house, a halfway house.  Most of the rest of the larger mansions were bulldozed during the 70's and 80's for urban renewal.

One thing I noticed, other than the houses are to die for, is that the ones left and not restored are in many times worse shape than what until recently was being torn down here in Springfield due to structural issues.  Thank you Planning Department and Code Enforcement for changing that!

iloveionia

October 19, 2010, 09:32:21 PM
My heart has always ached for Detroit.  There was a TV special not too long ago on Detroit.  It was heart wrenching.  The US should have gone in and helped Detroit after the car companies bailed and fell.  They still should go in and help. The new mayor is razing neighborhoods at lightening speed.  I hope Detroit can rise about the dust.

thelakelander

October 19, 2010, 09:53:39 PM
Are there any people or groups in Detroit who are against the rebirth of Brush Park?  

I'm pretty sure there were at some point.  After all, there's always two sides to every story.  This comes from a pretty good comprehensive article on Brush Park, its history and redevelopment.

Quote
Brush Park and hope
Old troubles and bold dreams as neighborhood charts a comeback.

Murmurs of discontent

Not everyone is happy with the new development. Gwen Mingo bought a home on Watson in 1995 and soon became chairperson of the Brush Park Citizen’s District Council. Mingo and the CDC last summer served the Archer administration with a class action lawsuit, claiming residents were forced out of the neighborhood after redevelopment plans were announced a decade ago.

That first Brush Park renewal listed dozens of private properties to be condemned and acquired for development. Mingo’s suit claims that after announcing its plan, the city did little to maintain the area, which drove residents out and property values down, The city avoided paying to relocate residents and acquired property cheaply by foreclosing after owners defaulted on taxes, says Mingo.

In the most dramatic example presented by Mingo and other critics, Annie and Nathaniel Jackson lived in their garage after the city tore down their house in 1993, saying the house had become a hazard through disrepair. The Jacksons lived in their garage until November when Nathaniel died and, according to neighbors, Annie moved in with relatives. A lawsuit against the city on the Jacksons’ individual claims has been dismissed.

But last month Wayne County Circuit Court Judge William Giovan approved the Mingo-CDC as a class action. According to Mingo’s attorney, Stephen Wasinger, in the past decade at least 300 tenants and owners were forced from their homes and are entitled to relocation benefits and compensation.

Wasinger says that he plans to seek an injunction to prevent the city from acquiring other private property.

“My main objective is to be sure people are treated fairly,” says Mingo. “If they want to leave, give them relocation money. If they don’t want to leave, give them low- or moderate-income homes.”

Marusich says that low- and moderate-income housing is already in the plans. The city owns about eight acres in the center of Brush Park’s 105 acres. The center is slated for residential development; at least 25 percent of which is to be low- and moderate-income units.

“We don’t want any one site in particular for this type of housing, but want to spread it throughout the community,” says Marusich.

That kind of integration is a commendable goal, says George Galster, a Wayne State University professor in the urban affairs department. Galster is recognized nationally as an expert on neighborhood development.

“It is only fair that we protect one of the most vulnerable populations in society,” he says of the poor, “and it’s good social policy.”

Higher-income residents serve as role models for successful lifestyles. They also have disposable income, which creates retail jobs in their neighborhoods for low-income people, says Galster.

But Mingo’s lawsuit accuses the city of more than driving out the poor. It alleges that the city excluded the CDC’s input on redevelopment plans. According to Mingo, the city stopped funding the CDC in 1995; the money was eventually given to the Development Corporation, which the city required to separate from the CDC. Residents debate why Archer did this, but many say they do not want to get bogged down in petty squabbles; they say that they would rather work on revitalizing the neighborhood.

Holmes-Douglas and other Development Corporation members say that they regularly ask Mingo and CDC members for input on the development plans, but get little response.

Ricky Brown, who has lived in Brush Park about eight years, was a CDC member before joining the Development Corporation in 1997. He says that he tried to convince Mingo, whom he considers a close friend, to drop the lawsuit and participate in the development plans.

“I used to tell Gwen we need to work together,” says Brown.

Galster says “turf battles” are typical in neighborhoods that are being redeveloped.

Though there is no one way to resolve these conflicts, Galster suggests that keeping the development process open to as many people as possible minimizes controversy.

“I guess I’m saying that I like the redevelopment game played fairly, on an even playing field,” says Galster. “It rarely is, I’m afraid.”

Mingo is not the only one accusing the city of not playing fair. Karen Anderson, co-owner of City Cab, says the city is trying to drive the company out of the area. For instance, last spring, in order to lay new lighting cables and sewage pipes for the neighborhood, the city planned to tear up Adelaide Street where cabs enter and exit the company garage. She says the city notified the company by handing one of its mechanics a flier the day before work began.

“You don’t treat a business that has been in the city 70 years like this,” says Anderson.

When the city refused to cooperate, about 200 cabbies parked along Adelaide to prevent the city from tearing up the street.

The city, according to Marusich, wants to move the cab company out of Brush Park which is primarily residential. He says the city is working on finding another location for the business.

“It is time to do something with this area and we’re not fighting this at all, but we don’t think they should just put us out,” says Anderson.

The city made two offers to purchase the property, but the company rejected both; Anderson would not disclose the amounts. She suspects that the city will attempt to acquire the property by condemning it. Until then, she says, “We are still here. But we know the clock is ticking on us.”

Full article: http://www2.metrotimes.com/editorial/story.asp?id=1141

urbanlibertarian

October 20, 2010, 09:47:39 AM
Eminent domain should not be used to secure land for private redevelopment, only for government uses.

duvaldude08

October 20, 2010, 02:06:24 PM
Detroit is in a bad situation. I mean what do you do, Let entire neighborhood sit and decay? Revitalized them and let them sit there unoccupied? Or do you tear them down. Being that there population has being going south for decades now, I actually think it makes sense to raze those neighborhood and start from stracth. Once the population picks back up, start building on those empty lots and begin a whole new town.

Ya know and people dog Jax because were not a tourist town or dont any major coopration's, however it is actually good that we dont depend on those things to sustain our local economy. Because when things go south, the city is going to be in despair. Imagine if everything theme park in Orlando shut down.... It would be a ghost town.

Timkin

October 24, 2010, 11:04:30 PM
Incredibly Beautiful homes and buildings in horrible disrepair.  Its a start, though.

coredumped

October 26, 2010, 04:16:23 PM
It's probably a drop in the bucket, but things might start to get better:
http://consumerist.com/2010/10/gm-ford-chrysler-to-invest-2-billion-add-jobs-in-michigan.html

Wacca Pilatka

October 26, 2010, 04:30:00 PM


Ya know and people dog Jax because were not a tourist town or dont any major coopration's, however it is actually good that we dont depend on those things to sustain our local economy. Because when things go south, the city is going to be in despair. Imagine if everything theme park in Orlando shut down.... It would be a ghost town.


They shouldn't do it either, because Jacksonville has much more to do and see than people think or than many of its citizens seem to realize/let on.  Just on outdoor activities opportunities and eco-tourism alone, it's ahead of many places.

Timkin

October 26, 2010, 04:45:49 PM
Jacksonville not only does have so much to do , but it has the land area and potential to do pretty much anything, if we put our minds to it.

thelakelander

October 26, 2010, 04:58:15 PM
Detroit is in a bad situation. I mean what do you do, Let entire neighborhood sit and decay? Revitalized them and let them sit there unoccupied? Or do you tear them down. Being that there population has being going south for decades now, I actually think it makes sense to raze those neighborhood and start from stracth. Once the population picks back up, start building on those empty lots and begin a whole new town.

Ya know and people dog Jax because were not a tourist town or dont any major coopration's, however it is actually good that we dont depend on those things to sustain our local economy. Because when things go south, the city is going to be in despair. Imagine if everything theme park in Orlando shut down.... It would be a ghost town.

This exact thing happened to our actual city and downtown.  The lions share of downtown's economy was reliant on the insurance (once known as the Hartford of the South) and financial industries (remember it was the home of the "Big Three").  As these places have merged, reduced their workforces, shut down or relocated, downtown has declined as a result.  Either later this week or early next, we be running "An Empty Feeling: Inside the Walls of Downtown."  It will visually display the results of what happens over a 20 year period when major companies like Barnett, FNB, Charter, Atlantic Bankcorp, Gulf Life, Humana, American Heritage, etc. all bail downtown for one reason or another.  Once you see the number of major corporate anchors that have left since the 1980s, it won't be so suprising to see why the department stores, retail, dining and entertainment followed suit.  So, we're not so different from Detroit in the arena of suffering from depending too much on a changing industry.  Where we are different is in the fact that Detroit is essentially the inner city of that metro area and Jacksonville is an inner city with suburbs to hide the losses.

LanceH

October 14, 2011, 01:29:16 AM

Until recently, the city of Detroit has been regressing to near-collapse. But the city is seeing a brand new positive outlook, powered by growth and successes on many fronts. I read this here: Can the rebounding optimism of Detroit spread to other cities. Can that character of growth and positive outlook be infectious to other cities?

Timkin

October 14, 2011, 03:33:54 AM
We can always remain optimistic , and hope so , Lance .  Great Article!

Hildred Smith

April 11, 2012, 11:41:52 AM
Amazing point of view!!! I also loved the pictures. I can truly say that the rebirth was perfectly shown. Just in case you need some legal help, seek for assistance from a Tampa injury lawyer.
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