DFC City Systems Priority - Renew Systems Strategically and Innovatively

Detroit has a critical need to establish more long-lasting, cost-effective and innovative city systems, such as water, waste, energy, transportation and communications. Such infrastructure can improve quality of life for Detroiters by essential reinvestment and employment growth, encouraging thriving communities and improving environmental and health conditions.  

After 60 years of disinvestment and depopulation in Detroit, we must consider system renewal thoughtfully and strategically to link infrastructures to current and future needs. By moving beyond traditional legacy infrastructures to improve systems delivery while reducing costs, we can develop the essential value proposition for residents and businesses to be in Detroit. 

To accomplish these goals, the Detroit Future City (DFC) Implementation Office is working across three major lines of effort: 

1. Strategic Infrastructure Renewal
The city can improve the service quality by upgrading and maintaining infrastructure in areas of higher density and demand while reducing excess system capacity in areas of lower demand. 

•    Master Plan of Policies UpdateDFC’s update to the City’s Master Plan included guidance on how the City could be strategic in its infrastructure investment decisions.
•    Detroit 2.0 Human Capital Support :  DFC advised the White House team of municipal technology experts during their visit to Detroit.  DFC worked with Detroit’s new Chief Information Officer (CIO) to identify, recruit, and place a Deputy Director for Civic Community Engagement.  DFC continues to support the City in sourcing services for opening city data.    

2. Landscape as 21st Century Infrastructure
By investing in sustainable natural systems in the form of green and blue infrastructure as opposed to costly grey infrastructure, Detroit can mitigate stormwater runoff into the Great Lakes, improve air quality, reduce heat island effect, beautify neighborhoods and provide new amenities that improve the quality of life for Detroit residents. 

•    Great Lakes Shoreline Cities Green Infrastructure Project will deploy green infrastructure to manage and retain stormwater in Detroit’s lower east side drainage district.  

•    Dendro-remediation Pilot ProjectDendro-remediation is the process by which trees are planted to reduce and eliminate toxic substances in the soil over time. DFC has supported the Greening of Detroit by identifying sites for dendro-remediation implementation.

•    Carbon Buffer Pilot Project: Through the treatment of vacant land near sources of pollution, including expressways, “carbon buffers” absorb carbon dioxide, block particulate matter and mitigate other pollution stemming from vehicular traffic and industry. DFC is currently working with the Greening of Detroit and the Michigan Department of Transportation to finalize pilot locations for carbon buffer plantings in fall 2014.

•    Detroit Water and Sewerage Department (DWSD) Performance Rate Reduction Pilot seeks to pilot the use of innovative blue infrastructure as a means of cleaning and managing stormwater, exploring the policy and fee structure changes needed to allow Detroit to become a healthier, greener city and a model for 21st century best practices in sustainable development and resiliency. 

3. Diversified Transportation for Detroit and the Region
Detroit’s transportation system, from the road network to public transit, can be reconfigured to align with the emerging needs of the city and the region. 

•    Tiered Transit Recommendations: DFC has advised City of Detroit policy makers on how to reconfigure transportation to improve service and reduce cost by establishing a tiered transit system with express bus service to micro-transit.  

•    University of Michigan Social Impact Challenge: DFC was the University of Michigan’s Nonprofit Management Center 2014 partner organization for the Social Impact Challenge.  DFC created a challenge that focuses on developing strategic and tactical recommendations that increase connectivity and improve mobility for Detroiters in three high vacancy neighborhoods.  Over 15 multidisciplinary teams responded to the challenge, with the winner announced in spring 2014.

See the In the News section below for articles about the recent flood and how DFC's blue and green infrastructure recommendations and initiatives could help minimize the negative impacts of future rain events. 

The Detroit News Focuses on Detroit Future City's Efforts to Transform Detroit

Detroit Future City helps shape public, private visions into area's transformation
September 4, 2014
By Laura Berman
Michelle Lutz working at the farm that is part of Recovery Park.Kenneth Cockrel Jr. has been a Detroit City Council member, council president and — for six months in 2013 — the city’s mayor. But for the last nine months, as the executive director at Detroit Future City, he’s seen Detroit anew. “It’s a view from the balcony,” he says.

As a city official, Cockrel recalls being busy solving crises, “so focused on the daily grind, putting out fires every day, that you don’t get a chance to think about how to prevent fires from starting.”

Now, the city’s future — and how to get there — is the only job for Cockrel and his co-workers at the concrete-floored, urban-rustic DFC implementation office on West Grand Boulevard.
How do you transform a city laden with 19th century infrastructure, 20 square miles of vacant land and a history of insolvency? How do you help public and private entities pick and choose the best ideas — and those likeliest to succeed — in the future? How do you even get them to ask you for help?

Read the full article here

DFC in the News

Detroit Free Press: Editorial: Re-envision infrastructure in wake of historic rainfall

Forbes: Why Can't More Cities Be Like Detroit 

MLive: After the flood: Expanded green infrastructure could help absorb rain, planners say


DFC Partner: The Greening of Detroit

The Greening of Detroit is a nonprofit resource that inspires sustainable growth of a healthy urban community through trees, green spaces, food, education, training and job opportunities.  

The DFC Implementation Office partners with the Greening of Detroit on many projects, including several highlighted in this e-newsletter.  

Click here to learn more about the Greening of Detroit, including how you can volunteer. 
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2990 W. Grand Blvd.
Detroit, MI 48202