20 Detroit-based projects named finalists for Knight Cities Challenge

Finalists have been announced for the second Knight Cities Challenge, and Detroit is well represented. Twenty of the 158 finalists are Detroit-based projects. The winners will be announced later this spring.

The Knight Cities Challenge is a John S. and James L. Knight Foundation contest, one that will split $5 million in grants among winning projects that address how cities can attract and retain residents, how they can boost economic activity for everyone, and how to better connect and involve citizens in their collective future. Applications closed Oct. 27, 2015.

"The finalists reflect what the Knight Cities Challenge is about: uncovering new civic innovators and motivating people to realize ideas—big and small—that can contribute to the success of their cities," Knight Foundation vice president for community and national initiatives Carol Coletta says in a statement.

While submissions were accepted from anywhere, the projects must be of benefit to one of the 26 Knight communities, which include Detroit, Miami, and Philadelphia. Detroit finalists range from individually-submitted proposals to those submitted by city and regional institutions.

An example includes a proposal entitled "Detroit's Exciting Adventure into the Pink Zone," which was submitted on behalf of the Detroit Department of Planning and Development by its director, Maurice Cox. He proposes the development of a tool that would make city development regulations more efficient. The project also aims to reshape commercial districts with the help of talented designers.

Live6 and its director, Lauren Hood, offer "Storefront Speakeasy," a pop-up cafe that would offer live music and spoken word and re-energize empty storefronts in the Livernois and McNichols corridors.

Five Detroit projects won grand prize money in last year's contest, including Brick + Beam Detroit and RE: Brand Detroit.

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