Crossing the Lines: Live6 Alliance facilitates business growth

Business has been growing on West McNichols over the past decade. The Live6 Alliance aims to foster that growth.

Live6 Alliance Neighborhood HomeBase is a community gathering space and shared office space for the Live6 Alliance and other local nonprofits.

Live6 Alliance Neighborhood HomeBase is a community gathering space and shared office space for the Live6 Alliance and other local nonprofits.

This story is part of WDET’s Crossing the Lines: Live6 series, exploring the neighborhoods around the intersection of Six Mile Road and Livernois Avenue. See more Crossing the Lines coverage »

Business was pretty scarce along West McNichols Street on Detroit’s west side before the Live6 Alliance came along. The Kresge Foundation, the University of Detroit Mercy and Marygrove College formed the alliance in 2015. Its goal is to bring new businesses and new residents to the four neighborhoods around the intersection of McNichols (also known as Six Mile Road) and Livernois Avenue. Those neighborhoods are Fitzgerald, Bagley, Martin Park and University District.

Caitlin Murphy is the Live6 Alliance’s executive director. She says it’s making a difference.

“Before the Live6 Alliance, there were really a scattershot of businesses that were open,” Murphy says. “We were only at, I’d say, a 10% occupancy rate and 10% density of business.”

Headshot of Caitlin Murphy on a sidewalk
Caitlin Murphy is the Live6 Alliance’s executive director.

Since then, she says the area is seeing more private development along the McNichols corridor. There’s now a coffee shop, a pizza bar, a barbecue restaurant and more developments on the way.

Murphy describes her group as a “place-based” community development organization. Its main focus is developing the West McNichols commercial corridor between Livernois and Wyoming avenues.

“We really view ourselves as…the facilitator of a lot of these activities,” Murphy says. “We like to be partners with other entities that are doing work in this neighborhood.”

It can be a balancing act

Block clubs and other groups have used the Live6 Alliance’s Neighborhood Homebase as a public gathering place to discuss ways to bring more business to the neighborhood. The key, Murphy says, is creating the right mix of businesses that meet the needs of the neighborhoods.

“What we’re hearing is that the products should be at a price point that’s accessible,” she says. “We’re trying to ensure that the products that we’re offering can be a local substitute to having to travel outside the neighborhood.”

Murphy says such intentional planning will boost foot traffic along McNichols, but she says it has to be done responsibly.

“There’s a sense that we don’t want a ton of visiting cars coming to this neighborhood and there’s no designated parking for them,” she says. “And then there’s a concern that the parking will line up along the residential streets, which might make life for residents more difficult.”

What’s next?

Murphy says one of the alliance’s big projects is preparing to open a community marketplace adjacent to its home base.

“It’ll be a retail storefront where people can come in and purchase things that are necessary and convenient for them.”

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  • Pat Batcheller
    Pat Batcheller is a host and Senior News Editor for 101.9 WDET, presenting local news, traffic and weather updates during Morning Edition. He is an amateur musician.