Urban Decay and Rebirth: Detroit's Brush Park

October 19, 2010 16 comments Open printer friendly version of this article Print Article

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?

"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.

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