Students pitch development ideas for Fisher Body Plant 21

Representatives of the city of Detroit, Vanguard Community Development Corporation, German Marshall Fund of the U.S., and University of Michigan's Taubman College of Architecture and Planning gathered Wednesday, Feb. 18, to hear University of Michigan students' pitches for the redevelopment of Fisher Body Plant 21. The event was organized by Michigan's Center for Social Impact and held at the Ross School of Business.

Dannan Hodge, Arthur Endsley, Drew Phillips, and Fulton Breen made up Team Impact, which won the Social Impact Challenge. They proposed a mixed-use development that utilized qualified workers and skilled tradespersons from the North End community, where the Fisher 21 is located. Those workers would ultimately transform the building into a space where they themselves could live and work.

A second team also pitched a mixed-use development. The third team proposed a complex devoted to 3D printing, one they theorized would make Detroit the 3D printing capital of the world.

While largely academic in nature, the event offered new ideas for the abandoned factory, ideas that could one day influence city decision-making. David Williams, senior advisor to the City of Detroit Mayor's Office and its Jobs and Economy Team, was one of the judges. He says that for all the challenges a massive development project like the Fisher Body Plant faces, it's exciting to see so many people engage with the issues facing the city. The more brains, he says, the better.

"All these ideas help push the conversation forward," says Williams. "And the further that conversation goes, the more likely we're able to renovate something like the Fisher building."

The teams had two weeks to develop a plan for the site, one that included everything from budgets to funding sources, jobs numbers to community relationships. The winning team received $2,500 for their proposal.

Source: David Williams, senior advisor to the City of Detroit Mayor's Office
Writer: MJ Galbraith

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MJ Galbraith is Model D's development news editor. Follow him on Twitter @mikegalbraith.