From The Ground Up
Metropolis Magazine|June 2019
From The Ground Up

A revitalization program in Detroit fills in the gaps.

Zach Mortice

Stephanie Harbin has lived in the Detroit neighborhood of Fitzgerald since 1969 and is president of its San Juan Drive block club. When she was a child, she remembers, there were 75 houses packed into an extraordinarily long block of San Juan. And in a story seen across many sections of Detroit, only 42 of those homes remain.

Now, she says, “I see change is happening.” Some families are coming back. But perhaps the biggest change underway is what’s happening in the long-fallow landscapes.

An ongoing plan by landscape architects Spackman Mossop Michaels (SMM) is unifying this neighborhood, which has been atomized by vacancy and foreclosure.

The Fitzgerald Neighborhood Revitalization Plan integrates refurbished single-family homes within a network of productive and recreational landscapes centered on an axial greenway. It’s a unique model for Detroit—or anywhere else—because it rebuilds equity not only by restoring what was taken but also by deepening residents’ relationships through the new landscapes.


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June 2019