20-Minute Neighborhoods In Detroit

If Detroit needs to be "rebuilt" or "reimagined," why not do so around a walkable, convenient ideal? A compact Motor City where essential goods and services are available within a 20-minute walk?
July 2, 2016, 5am PDT | Philip Rojc | @PhilipRojc
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"Detroit Mayor Mike Duggan recently introduced the idea of rebuilding Detroit around the concept of the 20-minute neighborhood, where folks can walk or bike to everything they need outside of work." A valiant concept to be sure, but is it realistic?

Wayne State planning professor Robin Boyle writes, "a 20-minute neighborhood is an active, safe, walkable, convenient, predominantly residential neighborhood.  A place where people can get most of their day-to-day goods and services — shopping with good food, access to transit, parks and schools — within a 20-minute walk."

Density is the deciding factor, but Detroit has become renowned for shedding its density. "The mayor's initial target neighborhoods: L6 (Livernois and McNichols), Southwest Detroit and West Village on the east side might work. But the key to extending the concept is density. Are there enough households, with sufficient disposable income, to sustain the shops, the local services? Are there enough children to keep the school open and thriving?"

Success will depend on fostering areas best suited to denser amenities, which means leaving other areas out. "The 20-minute neighborhood needs a residential density of somewhere between 15 and 20 households per acre to support local retail. Outside of the downtown/Midtown corridor and a select number of more dense, occupied neighborhoods, most of Detroit has a lower residential density."

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Published on Tuesday, June 14, 2016 in Detroit Free Press
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