Community meetings seek neighbors' input on future of Ferry Park

As you drive down Ferry Park these days, you can see the vestiges of the once-bustling corridor. There’s the façade that says Roberts’ Confectionary on one corner, and then at the corner of Rosa Parks and Ferry Park sits the former Papa’s Soul Food.


And there’s Crockett’s Market, known for having the coldest beer, a satisfying array of snacks like chips and candy, and a great meat selection. But beyond frosty beverages and provisions for dinner, Crockett’s Market was known as a community meeting area. Everyone knew the patriarch and matriarch of the business, recalls Winnie Crockett Kidd, who along with the other Crockett children worked in the store.


“Everyone in that area knew my parents, my parents knew everyone,” she says. “If there was any problems or whatever, it was brought to Crockett’s Market.”


After more than 40 years serving the neighborhood, Crockett’s Market closed up shop in 2012. The street that was once home to community staples like Crockett’s Market, White’s Record Shop, and more is the focus of a new study, Reimagining Ferry Park. The study will focus on Ferry Park from Lawson to Holden, with the goal of the community coming up with three catalytic sites that should be redeveloped.


Community development corporation NW Goldberg Cares recently received a $48,000 grant from the Community Foundation for Southeast Michigan to commission Rosetti to facilitate the study.


Why Ferry Park? “Ferry Park is one of the commercial corridors in our neighborhood that historically saw a lot of vibrancy,” says NW Goldberg Cares founder Daniel A. Washington. “There's a lot of vacant land on this stretch of property that has the opportunity if and when the city of Detroit decides to put a focus on it, it could be developed. But we figured, why not us, the community, come up with a plan and idea?”


Washington says the community is often asked to come to these meetings and weigh in but through this process the organization aims to empower the residents.


Resident Glenda Cook, who remembers first coming to the neighborhood as a teen to babysit, is looking forward to have the opportunity to have her voice heard. “A lot of things take place, usually in neighborhoods, without you really knowing or being a part of it. Or you kind of feel like developers really don't care about the people in the neighborhood. But just to have an opportunity to speak your peace and say this is what you'd like to see, and to have someone to listen to you … that's a good feeling because you feel like your input has a part of shaping history.”


The study is will span six months of comprehensive community engagement, including

meetings, which kick off this week; focus groups; feedback sessions; and presentations.


Through the planning study, the goal is to identify three catalytic sites along Ferry Park, driven by community insight and desires for the commercial corridor.


Michael Lewis, a newer resident of the neighborhood, would love to see more shopping options, especially more Black-owned business and community gathering spaces.


“I would like to see an influx of Black businesses around here. It’s a neighborhood that's been historically Black … and has some storied places around here,” he says, adding, “I would like to see [developers] try and do what they're doing along the Avenue of Fashion.”


Aside from the grocery store and businesses like White’s Record Shop, Kidd remembers a bustling community with residential houses on Ferry Park as well.


“All of the houses had beautiful lawns and I remember a majority of them had vegetable gardens and fruit trees,” she says. As for what she’d like to see on Ferry Park, she’d like for it to become a mix of residential and commercial property like it was when her parents had the store.


Mecha Crockett, who like Kidd grew up working at their parents’ market, would like to see the vacant houses be demolished.


“You don't want your house to look one way and the house next door to you is falling apart,” says Crockett, who moved back home to Detroit and at the moment is living in her parents’ house. She adds she’d also like to see “small businesses in the area that cater to the needs of the people who live here … if they can have a Starbucks at Woodward and Mack why not at 16th and Ferry Park, where my parents’ store once was because people still live in that area.”


She says she plans on attending the meeting because her parents are not able to but she wants to make sure their voices are heard.


Due to the rise in cases of COVID-19, all of the community meetings will be held via Zoom and Facebook Live.


Dates and times for the meetings are:

5:30 - 6:30 p.m. Wednesday, Dec. 16

5:30 - 6:30 p.m. Wednesday, Jan. 20

5:30 - 6:30 p.m. Wednesday, Feb. 24


For more information, go to NW Goldberg Cares’ website.


Read more articles by Dorothy Hernandez.

Dorothy Hernandez is a freelance writer and editor who frequently writes about food at the intersection of culture and business. She has contributed to NPR, Midwest Living magazine, Eater, and a variety of other publications. Visit her website and follow her on Twitter @dorothy_lynn_h.
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