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Heard on All Things Considered, Morning Edition

Detroit Unveils Plans For McNichols Streetscape Project

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Image credit: Jerome Vaughn

The project will renovate the streetscape on McNichols between Livernois and Wyoming in northwest Detroit.

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Caitlin Malloy MarconJerome Vaughn
Jerome Vaughn

Caitlin Malloy Marcon

The City of Detroit has announced a new streetscape project for McNichols road, near the site of Marygrove College.

Planning is now underway for a section of McNichols in northwest Detroit, between Livernois and Wyoming Ave. The city plans to improve sidewalks, lighting, bus shelters, bus stops, crosswalks and landscaping. The city says residents are excited and engaged with the project. 

One of the best parts about the public engagement is to hear from longtime residents around the area talking about what they remember what McNichols was or what Livernois was or what Grand River was,” says Caitlin Malloy Marcon, Deputy Director with Complete Streets, an initiative housed under the Department of Public Works. ”And you know, some of those really grand memories they want to see come back to life.”

Success will be seeing more feet walking on the sidewalks and spending more dollars in the existing businesses.” - Caitlin Malloy Marcon, City of Detroit

Marcon says the city is planning for construction between May and November of this year. She spoke with WDET’s Jerome Vaughn about the new streetscape project. 

Click on the player above to hear Caitlin Malloy Marcon talk about plans for the McNichols streetscape project.


The area of the proposed streetscape project.Shiraz Ahmed / WDET
Shiraz Ahmed / WDET

The area of the proposed streetscape project.

Jerome Vaughn, WDET: What should the character of that corridor look like?

Caitlin Malloy Marcon, Complete Streets, City of Detroit: So some of the biggest things that we heard was for a cry out for safety on the corridor.

There’s a lot of speeding that happens. People say they don’t frequent the businesses there because they don’t feel comfortable walking along the sidewalk or crossing the street. They don’t feel comfortable even parking their car on the side of the street with fear of being sideswiped or getting your door knocked off when you’re opening it.

And so one of the biggest things was traffic calming. Slow the cars down. Help us feel comfortable using McNichols as a commercial corridor again. That’s first and foremost what we heard.

Another frequent comment that we hear is for beautification. And that’s really from the existing businesses. They want McNichols to be a place that they’re proud to own their restaurant, their hair salon. And so to bring in some sort of greenery, furnishings, better lighting to increase the safety.

As you’re talking to residents and businesses about what they’d like to see in the area, does the history of the area ever come into play?

On every corridor, the history comes into play. It’s one of the best parts about the public engagement is to hear from longtime residents around the area talking about what they remember what McNichols was or what Livernois was or what Grand River was. And you know, some of those really grand memories they want to see come back to life. And then also hearing from new residents or younger generations from those same families that are still in the neighborhood, talking about also what they would like to see to move the corridors forward and then finding that balance of components that we can include in both.

The Department of Public Works received a history and cultural grant to fund some pieces of art that will go on some other projects, not that McNichols won’t be in the next round, but some other projects we already started construction on, to kind of infuse that cultural identity into what is otherwise a concrete roadway. How can we really bring that to life? And so we’re looking for unique opportunities like that to, again, talk about where we came from and then we’re also we want to go.

Fitzgerald Neighborhood Mural Jerome Vaughn
Jerome Vaughn

Fitzgerald Neighborhood Mural

The roadway there is right next to a project going on in the Fitzgerald neighborhood that was announced a while back, how are the two tied together?

So there’s a number of city initiatives going on in the Fitzgerald neighborhood.

My partners at the General Services Department are in the process of completing a neighborhood greenway, which is one more way to connect the commercial corridor, to connect the two major institutions being Marygrove College as well as U-D Mercy to the neighborhood and really build on those assets. We also have a number of housing initiatives going on in which there are funds going to rehab a number of homes in the Fitzgerald community and bring in housing stock that hasn’t been revitalized in a while and attract new families and more residents. And, again, our efforts are to bring in as many city departments as we can that have resources to have that layering to have a more catalytic effect of the developments that are going on.

And when construction is complete, what’s your metric for success? What does success look like?

I think on different projects success probably can be gauged in different ways for this particular project. I think that success will be seeing more feet walking on the sidewalks and spending more dollars in the existing businesses. We know that there are a number of developments that are kind of on the radar for McNichols, to see those open and flourish and be able to keep their doors open. That would be a goal. We really want the surrounding communities to have McNichols be a place that they are once again proud of to say that that is their commercial corridor.

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Jerome Vaughn, News Director

Jerome Vaughn is News Director at 101.9 WDET. He joined WDET in 1992 to help chronicle Detroit’s comeback and let people around the world know the truth about his hometown.

jvaughn@wdet.org Follow @jvdet

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