From Kevin Johnson, President and CEO
Work will begin shortly in several retail corridors to increase customer traffic and improve the quality of life for residents of those communities. This $80 million streetscape improvement initiative is part of the City’s $125 million bond program, which was approved in 2017 to revitalize neighborhood commercial corridors.
As part of the program, $80 million is designated to infrastructure improvements along key commercial corridors across the city. These streetscape improvements support the City’s neighborhood planning efforts to enhance safety measures and recapture some of the $2.6 billion in retail spending currently leaving the city. The improvements include:
- New bike lanes
- On-street parking
- Expanded sidewalks
- Improved lighting
- Neighborhood branding
Corridor improvements will be done in conjunction with on-going neighborhood planning projects in 23 areas across the city.
While this is great news for Detroit and will improve the City’s walkability, the physical construction is expected to pose challenges, especially for small businesses.
According to a national study, road construction has a significant impact on retail sales, with 75 percent of businesses reporting a 10 to 40 percent decline in revenue. This could cause businesses to cut operation hours, lay off employees, or even close its doors.
Customers are being asked to double down on their patronage of businesses in affected areas in support of the upcoming construction challenges these businesses will face. What might be a temporary inconvenience for shoppers could help a business stay open to serve the community. In many areas, alternative parking will be available.
It’s also critical that businesses in the construction areas have a plan to weather the storm. The DEGC’s District Business Liaisons (DBL) are working with business owners in every neighborhood to mitigate the effects of construction on their businesses. This includes organizing financial planning workshops for business owners, encouraging collaboration to host “shop construction” events, and offering connections to existing business resources as needed.
The DBLs are helping everyone stay connected with communication networks that share construction schedules and other news. DBLs will distribute toolkits co-authored with the City’s Department of Public Works to keep business owners informed as construction projects draw near. The first project, slated to begin this month, will start on Livernois.
While construction can pose a business challenge, the streetscape improvements will offer long-term benefits for businesses and residents in revitalized neighborhoods such as new jobs, neighborhood stability, as well as more retailers offering the goods and services Detroiters need and deserve.
You can read more about the streetscape design project at https://detroitmi.gov
Three things you should know about the DEGC:
- Kevin Johnson recently spoke with American Black Journal on business development and employment in Detroit.
- Motor City Match Round 16 and Motor City Re-Store Round 8 applications are due April 8th.
- Join DEGC at the Michigan PACE Summit on May 2nd to find out how leaders in Detroit plan to create a greener and more sustainable Michigan.