Program Aims to Breathe New Life into Buildings, Spaces That Have Been Underutilized During the Pandemic

The fund offered by the Michigan Economic Development Corporation can be used for projects like converting offices into housing or building up outdoor dining areas. 

The Michigan Economic Development Corporation is launching a program to help communities repurpose buildings and outdoor spaces that are underutilized because of COVID-19.  

The Revitalization and Placemaking Program is funded by $100 million from the federal American Rescue Plan.  

Michele Wildman is the MEDC’s senior vice president of community development. She says her organization has been helping Michigan municipalities bring life to vacant and neglected spaces for a while now.  

“We knew that following the pandemic, that was even more important than ever, and wanted to provide a tool specifically to help drive those opportunities for population and tax revenue growth,” she says.  

The funding will help communities who now need assistance even more due to the pandemic.  

“Many of our communities, prior to the pandemic, had already been looking for ways to invest in local housing, invest in local talent, create those places where businesses can thrive.”  

Wildman says the money could be used to convert office space into housing or build infrastructure for outdoor dining and shopping, to name a few ideas. An initial funding round is expected to be announced in early 2022.   

Projects may also include the development of permanent infrastructure connected with downtown areas, social districts, and public spaces. Housing projects must include affordable units for households with less than 120% of the area median income. 

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  • Laura Herberg is a Reporter for 101.9 WDET, telling the stories about people inhabiting the Detroit region and the issues that affect us here.