Southwest Detroit – Vernor Crossing


The Southwest Detroit Business Association (SDBA) worked with MML and its consultant team on the Vernor Crossing PlacePlan for this culturally diverse city neighborhood with great potential for redevelopment. The Southwest Detroit project engaged neighborhood residents, businesses, and community organizations in developing a concept for the reuse of a vacant, city-owned brownfield site on the northwest corner of W. Vernor Hwy. and Livernois Ave. The vision for Vernor Crossing is that of a destination site containing unique, culturally relevant retail in a ‘mercado’ format that meets the needs of neighborhood residents while attracting shoppers from throughout the region, while adding much needed public space for activities and events. The charrette-driven plan, developed by Detroit-based firm ArchiveDS, also looked at opportunities to improve infrastructure and support infill development in the surrounding area, and especially along the Vernor corridor, creating better connections between the adjacent neighborhoods and business districts. It furthermore included Lean Urbanist and Tactical Urbanist solutions that could be used to implement the plan in a cost-effective way.

Since report delivery, SDBA has achieved several of the Key Action Items recommended in the PlacePlan report, while the design plan component of the PlacePlan has received accolades that are helping it to gain traction with stakeholders from philanthropic, city, and state agencies. SDBA commissioned the firm LandUseUSA to perform two Target Market Analysis (TMA) studies for the Vernor Crossing site and surrounding area, one focusing on potential demand for retail activity, the other focusing on potential demand for residential development and rehabilitation. These studies, funded with assistance from MML and the Michigan State Housing Development Authority (MSHDA), were delivered in mid-2015. MML, MSHDA, and LandUseUSA further participated in a series of meetings held both in Southwest Detroit and downtown Detroit to explain the results of the studies to a wide variety of stakeholders and potential development partners.During 2015, the design portion of the Vernor Crossing PlacePlan won the Detroit Chapter of the American Institute of Architects (AIA Detroit) Architectural Honor Award in Urban Design, which was reported in several national architecture and design publications. The Vernor Crossing plan was further selected as one of four sites throughout Detroit to be exhibited in Venice, Italy at the 2016 Venice Biennale, the world’s foremost international exhibition of art, architecture, and film. Chosen by US Architecture Pavilion representatives from the University of Michigan Taubman College of Architecture and Urban Planning, the Vernor Crossing design plan will be augmented and further developed for the exhibition by architecture firms from across the US.

In 2016, SDBA and its partners are committed to build on these accomplishments while focusing on the environmental aspects of the Vernor Crossing site as well as strengthening partnerships with city staff to ensure the site is developed in a way that is consistent with the much-acclaimed and community-supported vision the PlacePlans process helped to create.


Kathy Wendler, President, Southwest Detroit Business Association, 313.842.0986, x22

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