City officials and community members met on October 24th at the University of Detroit Mercy's School of Architecture to continue discussions about the forthcoming Fitzgerald Revitalization Project
, a city-led initiative to rehab over 350 plots of vacant land and houses in the Fitzgerald neighborhood of Detroit's northwest side.
This meeting was added after an October 4th meeting, where developers presented their proposed plans for Fitzgerald to community members. Questions and concerns that arose out of that meeting were part of the reason why the city wanted to give another opportunity for people to give feedback. Those at the October 24th meeting had the opportunity to vote on community priority areas for developers, which included issues like security, side lots, and affordable rentals.
Local hiring and workforce development was also a hot topic. This issue is particularly relevant in light of contractors for the Little Caesar's Arena being fined
roughly $500,000 for their inability to hire the requisite 51 percent of Detroiters for the project.
"I want to make sure that the people who live there are well served by the project," said Frank Rashid, a University District resident. He expressed concern about the project fulfilling its intended purposes. "I want to make sure that the people who live there aren't priced out of their homes. I want to make sure whatever is done we're employing the people in the neighborhood."
On hand to field questions and feedback like those from Mr. Rashid were a number of city officials, including Alexa Bush, a senior planner with the City of Detroit, as well as Kim Tandy, the District Manager for District 2, which houses the Fitzgerald community.
Ms. Bush sees the Fitzgerald Revitalization Project as an opportunity for residents to take part in the future of their neighborhood and gain access to local jobs. "[W]e think that through the rehab of homes, through the transformation of some of these lots, that there's a real opportunity to find some of these jobs," Bush said. These possibilities, as a result, would benefit people living directly in the Fitzgerald neighborhood.
She also wants people to stay connected as the process continues to move forward. "I would encourage people who have concerns to come plug in with us, come out to a meeting, call us, check the website. Part of why we wanted to start so many months ago was to give time to get the word out," she said.
Community members like Stephanie Harbin are looking forward to what is ahead. Harbin has been a Fitzgerald resident since 1969 and is heavily involved in local community groups, including the San Juan Block Club and the Fitzgerald Community Council. "We are at the point where we need some new life in this area," Harbin said.