“The solutions to these open lots of a declining community are interesting because they show engaged citizens what they are capable of doing to reverse the decline.”
– 2017 Awards Jury
Neighborhoods in Detroit and other cities across the country are dealing with the impact of blighted and vacant properties in their communities. The Fitzgerald Revitalization Project proposes a unique, landscape-driven approach to revitalizing neighborhoods. This project envisions a bold new way to address distressed neighborhoods by focusing on the landscape of the entire neighborhood rather than addressing blighted properties on a lot-by-lot basis. The project addresses all vacant and blighted properties in the entire ¼ square mile neighborhood, envisioning an entirely blight-free neighborhood. Using landscape strategies as the framework for affordable housing, workforce development, and community empowerment, this project presents an innovative way to think about neighborhood revitalization where healthy, inclusive, and ecologically robust landscapes are the driving force. The plan calls for a new greenway and park created by consolidating vacant parcels, as well as the transformation of 200 vacant lots into community hubs, orchards, pollinator habitats, and stormwater management sites. Built on this landscape framework are market-driven productive landscapes, the rehabilitation of 115 abandoned structures into affordable housing, and a green-collar workforce initiative.
▲场地平面图：0.25平方英里的项目场地位于底特律西北部的菲茨杰拉德社区，介于底特律大学和马里格罗夫学院之间。Project Location: The 1/4 square mile of the project area is located in the Fitzgerald neighborhood in northwest Detroit between Marygrove College and the University of Detroit Mercy.
▲0.25平方英里的场地中有超过100栋空置房屋和300处空置地块，它们均为底特律土地银行所持有。社区周围还分布着大量私有的闲置地产。Within the 1/4 square mile neighborhood, there are more than 100 vacant structures and 300 vacant parcels owned by the Detroit Land Bank Authority (DLBA). There are also many privately-owned vacant properties in and around the neighborhood.
▲大型的空置地块主要位于社区的中心地带，它们与有人居住的房屋混杂在一起。Large clusters of vacant lots are mainly located in the center of the neighborhood, however intact clusters of occupied homes do exist.
▲新规划的林荫道将连接底特律大学和马里格罗夫学院，同时还将为社区提供更完善的交通路径。The proposed Greenway will not only connect Marygrove College and the University of Detroit Mercy, but will also provide greater neighborhood-wide access across the community.
▲这些空置的地块有着不同的尺寸、分布、邻接关系、地权状况和社区特征。The vacant lots were categorized by a number of actors including size, adjacency, distribution, ownership status, and community character.
▲景观策略通过一系列社区会议和活动被展示给居民。Landscape strategies were presented at a series of community meetings and events.
▲菲茨杰拉德框架规划：主次林荫道将贯穿整个社区，为各处景观带来更多路径上的选择。景观的分配以地块的尺寸、邻接关系和社区的输入为基础。Fitzgerald Framework Plan: A primary and secondary Greenway will cross the neighborhood, offering options for accessing different community landscapes. Landscape typologies were assigned based on size, adjacencies, and community input.
▲艾拉·菲茨杰拉德公园将包含休闲用地、篮球场和用于集会活动的超大型空间。借助地理位置的优势，该公园将成为整个社区的心脏，并由园林部进行维护。The Ella Fitzgerald Park will have recreational fields, basketball courts, and over large spaces for community gatherings. This will be the heart of the community due to its central location and will be maintained by the Parks Department.
▲Grove大街和Prairie大街交汇处的景象，艾拉·菲茨杰拉德公园将在这里建成。Existing conditions at the corner of Grove and Prairie Street, the future site of Ella Fitzgerald Park.
▲树林/林荫道在未来将贯穿社区中的空置地块。View of the Grove or Greenway typology meandering across vacant lots throughout the neighborhood.
▲树林/林荫道的路面将利用标线漆绘制印花图案，在起到安全引导作用的同时也能够为道路赋予特征。The Grove or Greenway will be delineated by stenciled graphics using road marking paint to communicate safety guidelines along the shared path as well as create identity.
▲社区居民和底特律大学的学生们正在测试路面图案的绘制，顺便对未建成的林荫道进行了解。Neighborhood residents and students from Detroit Mercy testing painting strategies and learning about the future Greenway.
▲社区中心之一：位于Florence大街和Monica大街转角处的社区花园。View of one of the neighborhood hubs proposeds for a community garden on the corner of Florence and Monica Streets.
▲街道视角下的授粉花园，以栅栏围合在两栋住宅之间。Street level perspective of a meadow lot and associated fencing strategy located between two occupied homes.
▲果园视角。View of the orchard typology.
▲菲茨杰拉德社区的东向鸟瞰视角（渲染图），可以看到多样化的景观以及远处的底特律大学。标蓝部分表示将要进行修复的建筑。Aerial rendering of the Fitzgerald neighborhood and the various landscape typologies looking east toward the University of Dettroit Mercy. Houses highlighted in blue indicate structures that will be rehabilitated.
Landscape is the Framework for Revitalization
From its inception, this project envisioned a bold new approach to dealing with blight and distressed neighborhoods by focusing on the landscapes of the entire neighborhood. Healthy landscapes become the framework that holds together the other initiatives in the neighborhood, from affordable housing to crime reduction, to improved health outcomes, to workforce development, among others. The vision of a healthy, walkable, vibrant neighborhood with access to parks, greenways, and community spaces is the idea around which the other initiatives revolve.
The project is located in the Fitzgerald neighborhood of Detroit, located between two anchor institutions: the University of Detroit Mercy and Marygrove College. As the population in Detroit declined, this neighborhood was hard hit, with over 1,500 residents leaving the area. Currently, the vacancy rate in the neighborhood is around 50%, with over 300 vacant parcels in this ¼ square mile area. Vacant, overgrown lots and empty houses, some in good shape, some in grave disrepair, are interspersed among active households. Pedestrian circulation in the neighborhood is compromised due to the street layout, lack of pedestrian routes, and the high speed of traffic.
The landscape framework plan for the neighborhood, developed with extensive community engagement, focuses on addressing every parcel in the ¼ square mile neighborhood. There are four primary initiatives in the plan:
1. Ella Fitzgerald Park: In the center of the neighborhood, over 2-acres of vacant parcels will be consolidated to create a new community park with access to the greenway. This park will serve as a central gathering space for the community.
2. Fitzgerald Greenway: Connecting the two universities on either end of the neighborhood, the greenway uses vacant parcels to weave a new pedestrian and bicycle route through the neighborhood. An urban forestry initiative to plant new canopy trees in the neighborhood will be a key feature of the greenway.
3. Landscape Stewardship Plan: Integrated into the development of affordable housing in the neighborhood as a public/private partnership, the Community Developer will implement and maintain a series of landscape typologies on vacant parcels. This includes a range of landscape types, including orchards, pollinator meadows, community gathering spaces, and community gardens.
4. Productive Landscapes Initiative: In another public/private partnership, a productive landscape initiative for market-driven landscape-based businesses, such as local food production, hops production for local breweries, or cut flower production, will turn many of the larger, consolidated parcels into economic opportunities for local entrepreneurs.
Public/Private Partnership for Neighborhood Revitalization
In a new model for public/private investment in community revitalization, the project engages a Community Developer to address both the landscape and the housing initiatives for the entire ¼ square mile neighborhood. Built from the work with the community, an RFP for a Community Developer was issued at the completion of the final phase of planning. The Community Developer will bring private investment, and drive the two-year implementation of the project. The RFP requires that the developer engages in the installation and management of the 200+ lots in the Landscape Stewardship plan, as well as the rehabilitation of the 115 houses in the neighborhood with an affordable housing focus. The City of Detroit provides control of the vacant parcels owned by the Land Bank and raises funds for the creation of the two public green space projects in the neighborhood: the Ella Fitzgerald Park and the Fitzgerald Greenway.
Another public/private initiative to come from the planning work is the Productive Landscapes RFP. This initiative offers the use of Land Bank owned land for local entrepreneurs to use as a basis for market-rate landscape industries, such as local food production, biomass harvesting or hops production for local breweries. The Productive Landscapes RFP brings knowledge and capital to the development of the vacant lots and encourages the creation of small locally owned businesses in the neighborhood. A productive landscape team was selected by the City of Detroit, with input from the community, to move the project forward in collaboration with the Community Developer.
Empowering the Community through a Comprehensive Approach
An extensive community engagement process is at the heart of this project. Early on, the City of Detroit committed to a transparent process where the neighborhood is involved in every step of the project. Beyond the community and stakeholder meetings that formed the basis of the engagement process, the community was involved in the selection of the Community Development team that will implement a large portion of the plan. The planning process also addressed multiple issues simultaneously, such as landscape strategies, workforce development, crime reduction and affordable housing, in an acknowledgment of their interconnectedness.
The comprehensive approach to the project, where the entire neighborhood is considered as a whole, allowed the community greater input into the overall development and planning process. Furthermore, focusing on the landscapes, including streets and social spaces, helped to focus the planning process on tangible outcomes and a shared vision for the future of the neighborhood.
The planning process integrated the affordable housing initiative with the creation of the blight-free neighborhood. RFP for a Community Development team to rehabilitate 115 of the existing structures as affordable housing is tied to the Landscape Stewardship Plan, where the same development team will implement and maintain landscape interventions on the 200+ vacant lots in the neighborhood. The RFP for Productive Landscape entrepreneurs is based on the community’s vision for how productive landscapes will add value to the neighborhood and local businesses.
Building Neighborhood Ecosystem Services
One of the key goals of the project is to build resiliency into the landscape systems in the neighborhoods through increased ecosystems services. The landscape stewardship plan envisions a new way to manage these neighborhood landscapes that focus on creating pollinator habitat with native meadow landscapes. Opportunities to increase the coverage and quality of the urban tree canopy, increase biodiversity, and manage stormwater in the neighborhood are all key components to the plan. A clear and consistent goal of the community is to restore the landscapes and bring back lush, vibrant landscapes that support a host of ecosystem services.
Analysis and Planning Process
The project includes 373 total parcels of land in Fitzgerald that will go toward rehabilitating vacant homes, demolishing blighted houses, and creating new productive landscapes. Of the 373 parcels of land, 50 will be used towards creating new public community spaces in the new Ella Fitzgerald Park and the Fitzgerald Greenway, and over 200 will be part of the Landscape Stewardship Plan.
Analysis and inventory of the existing land assets in the Fitzgerald neighborhood were performed to study the best use of these vacant lots. Factors such as size, distribution, adjacency, ownership status, and community character were compiled and evaluated. From this came the development of lot treatment typologies and strategies for unbuilt and underutilized land that deploy sustainable maintenance strategies and contribute to neighborhood stabilization and revitalization, creating a positive identity and improving environmental performance. The typology criteria for all new landscape spaces are to be low-maintenance, have a low initial investment, and be ecologically beneficial.
Timeline for the Project
Construction documentation for the Ella Fitzgerald Park and the Fitzgerald Greenway were completed in April 2017, with construction happening in the summer of 2017. A Community Developer was selected by the City of Detroit in the spring of 2017, with input from the neighborhood. The developers began preparations for the rehabilitation of the 115 homes along with demolition of the 16 blighted structures, and installation of landscape typologies on the 200 vacant lots. By fall 2019, two years from the start of construction, the entire project must be completed, including all of the landscape improvements to the entire neighborhood and rehabbed homes occupied by families.