Land use and quality of life plan takes root in Brightmoor

It's a familiar Detroit narrative: a plucky neighborhood group wants to turn its vacant land into an asset. With over 600 acres of vacant land, the west side neighborhood of Brightmoor has its hands full. But as daunting a task as it may seem, Brightmoor residents, organizers, and community partners are better preparing for the future with a land use and quality of life plan called Restore the 'Moor. Now that they've built the framework, the neighborhood seeks to implement actions outlined in the plan.

Joe Rashid, outreach director at the Brightmoor Alliance, helped shepherd the plan through its different stages. He characterizes Restore the 'Moor as a living document, one that could change every few months depending on the needs of the community. Its first stage came in 2013 as the Alliance worked in conjunction with Community Development Advocates of Detroit to host a year-long discussion with neighborhood residents. The plan was developed over the course of 2014, and now it is ready to be put into action.

While much of what the plan calls for has been happening in Brightmoor for a while now — agriculture and festivals, for example — Restore the 'Moor gives context to the hard work neighborhood organizers have been putting in all these years. The plan attempts to identify ways for the neighborhood to turn its assets into jobs and a stronger local economy. Knucklehead Farm, a Brightmoor bed and breakfast that showcases the community's farming and sustainability culture, is the type of business Rashid hopes to see more of, at least in spirit.

"With about 500 people coming through Brightmoor each month on tours, we want to make sure we have places for people to spend their money," says Rashid. "Places like Artesian Farms and the community kitchen only help bolster great neighborhood staples like Scotty Simpson's, Motor City Java and Tea House, and Sweet Potato Sensations."

In addition to better utilizing its vacant land, the plan calls for re-populating parts of the neighborhood streets by attracting more immigrants. The Brightmoor Alliance is currently working with the city of Detroit and Global Detroit to target African and Caribbean immigrants. Expanding its festivals and public art programs are a priority and the neighborhood is especially looking forward to a community co-op and kitchen. Look for that to open this summer, says Rashid.

Source: Joe Rashid, outreach director at the Brightmoor Alliance
Writer: MJ Galbraith

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