Live 6

New Live6 Alliance headquarters and its homegrown director bring energy to neighborhood

Light Up Livernois brought people from across the city to the Livernois Corridor during the Detroit Design Festival in late September. While the stretch of businesses on the Avenue of Fashion bubbled with people and activities, things were noticeably quieter down near 6 Mile. All the same, something exciting brewed.

At 16647 Livernois, Lauren Hood and the Live6 Alliance is preparing to set up a permanent space that will serve as its headquarters.

Through the Live6 Alliance, Hood aims to guide community development opportunities to the neighborhoods surrounding 6 Mile and Livernois, with an emphasis on activating a commercial corridor that doesn’t draw as much attention as similar real estate closer to 7 Mile. She's also committed to working with local and minority owned businesses in the area so they have a stake in what's happening.

Hood is a true product of the neighborhood; she grew up in the Bagley section of the area and received both her undergraduate and graduate degrees from the University of Detroit Mercy, an anchor institution that sits directly across from her new headquarters.

"The work is important to me because I grew up in the neighborhood, my parents had the same house in Bagley for 45 years," she says.

She wants to bring the creative energy and investment that is so apparent in Detroit’s city center to the neighborhoods she grew up in. "I feel accountable to my former neighbors and family members who still live on the northwest side to make sure that this organization's revitalization efforts are inclusive."

One step into the storefront reveals a space that's cozy, but still under construction. During Light Up Livernois, student crafted light sculptures and posters of local community members decorated what will be Live6’s new home.

Still, there is much work to be done.

Leading the build-out is teacher and architect Tadd Heidgerken, founding principal of the Et Al Collaborative, which has advised the design of popular local establishments like Midtown’s Selden Standard and Eastern Market’s Inner State Gallery. He's also the co-owner of Block Party LLC, which is handling the development of the building that will house Live6’s headquarters.

By linking up with Live6, Heidgerken sees an opportunity to take a community-driven approach to development.

"I've worked with Lauren in the past and knew that her role on the project would allow the bottom-up voice of the community to enhance any larger top-down developments that are being proposed for the neighborhood," he says.

Heidgerken and Block Party won $70,000 in Motor City Match funding to be used for this project, which in addition to being the home for Live6, will also welcome restaurant tenants Social Sushi and Michi House, adding vibrancy to the neighborhood.

The space at 16647 Livernois is unfinished and requires a bit of imagination to envision the finished project. Once completed, however, both Hood and Heidgerken hope it will serve as a local gathering place where people can connect, deepen ties, and share ideas.

"My hope is that it becomes a place where community members come to exchange ideas and provide guidance and feedback on organizational initiatives," says Hood.

Heidgerken shares that sentiment. "I really think it's deeper than the space that draws people, but really starts with the users having real relationships with their community."

This story is part of Model D's "On the Ground" series, which
gives voice to the community members, businesses, and developers who make the Live6 neighborhood come alive.

Support for this series is provided by the Kresge Foundation
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Read more articles by Terryn Hall.

Terryn Hall is a Detroit Revitalization Fellow and writer whose work has appeared in The Guardian, The Root, and others. You can follow her on twitter @terryngrams.