Detroit “Pink Zoning” Initiative Puts Design Before Regulation

Detroit seeks input from urban planners to study how city ordinances may be eased to streamline future development.

Detroit officials hope to cut red tape in some of its commercial corridors, putting design before regulation. With a $75,000 grant from the Knight Foundation, the city’s Planning and Development Department is launching the “Pink Zoning Detroit” initiative, prioritizing walk-able, accessible, and mixed-use designs ahead of regulatory ordinances. The city is calling on urban planning teams to study possible development designs based on three sites around the city: underutilized parcels on West Warren Avenue, vacant lots on Gratiot Avenue, and the block surrounding the historic Alger Theater. Research fellow James Macmillen says with that information, the city will examine which of Detroit’s ordinances can be eased.

“What is the ultimate vision that we would like to see as residents, as business owners, as the City, for these areas of the city? And then, how can we then ensure that the regulations that we have really allow those visions to take place?”

​James Macmillen, Research Fellow, City of Detroit Planning and Development Department

Macmillen said it’s part of a citywide effort to bring small businesses closer to the community. “This chimes in with the priority of the 20-minute neighborhoods that Mayor Duggan has been talking about recently,” said Macmillen. “[It] prioritizes accessibility within the neighborhoods to strong, commercial corridor sites.”  The city is accepting applications to the program until September 16th. The Planning and Development Department should have the Pink Zoning recommendations compiled by next summer.


  • Eli Newman
    Eli Newman is a Reporter/Producer for 101.9 WDET, covering breaking news, politics and community affairs. His favorite Motown track is “It’s The Same Old Song” by the Four Tops.