Eastern Market is a prime example of urban placemaking according to MIT

A study conducted by the Department of Urban Studies and Planning (DUSP) at MIT that was just released last week that explores the evolution of the urban planning and design of public places toward placemaking, evaluating high-profile placemaking projects throughout the country including Detroit's Eastern Market.
 
Researchers looked at the market before and after the public-private partnership of the Eastern Market Corporation was established in 2006 to handle the district's operations. Since then, monumental change has occurred in the historic market district, as noted in the report:
 
"Since EMC took over the market’s management, two major facilities have been revitalized for more than $8 million, and another $8 million worth of renovations are underway on a new plant and flower center, Community Commercial Kitchen (available for rent to food-related entrepreneurs), and a new public plaza. By 2016, more than $80 million will have been invested. Plans include a mixed-use shed, streetscape projects, a greenway, a parking facility, and alternative energy projects. Additionally the EMC has created far-reaching food-access programs, a series of food-business incubator programs, a new Tuesday market and 'after hours' markets, and is planning a Sunday market featuring artisanal merchants. Part of the stakeholders’ vision is to use the success of the market to revitalize the entire area while retaining its authenticity, grit, and productive industrial uses."
 
Researchers further delved into the types of products sold at the market and spoke with EMC President Dan Carmody about the future of the market as it continues to grow and expand, reaching wider and wider audiences and growing to international prominence for the very same efforts outlined in this report. As the market brings in more specialty food producers that appeal to a wealthier and/or trendier clientele, EMC leadership is constantly mindful of keeping the market a place that appeals to a broad audience; a place where, yes, people have access to those local artisan food producers that get featured in national lifestyle publications, but also a place where everyone in the community has access to fresh, healthy, affordable food. They want to ensure the market continues to have this hip appeal while still retaining its authenticity.

As stated in the report:
 
"Perhaps the greatest ongoing challenge is how to get the right balance between gentrification and revitalization. Dan Carmody says, 'EMC is actively avoiding becoming too "cool,"' and decisions have been made to clean up the market but not make it 'too pretty;' limit the number of specialty foods vendors; and make sure residential zoning is kept to the outskirts of the district.' With every weekly market and event, EMC works to rebuild Detroiters' faith in community, revitalize a struggling district, increase food access, bring suburbanites back to the city, and help bridge socioeconomic and racial divides."

Read the full paper here.

Source: MIT Urban Planning: Project Placemaking
Writer: Nicole Rupersburg

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Nicole Rupersburg is a former Detroiter now in Las Vegas who regularly writes about food, drink, and urban innovators. You can follow her on Instagram @eatsdrinksandleaves and Twitter @ruperstarski.
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