A Culture Change Takes Hold at the Detroit Planning Department

For all its troubles, Detroit has undertaken some of the greatest urban success stories of recent years. New leadership at the city's Planning Department is hoping to expand those narratives to long-neglected parts of the city.
December 20, 2016, 7am PST | James Brasuell | @CasualBrasuell
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Darren Brode

John Gallagher reports on changes at the Detroit Planning Department, where "under Mayor Mike Duggan and his chosen director Maurice Cox, the city’s planning efforts now promise to rival those under the legendary Charles Blessing in the mid-20th Century."

"Under Cox," explains Gallagher, "the attention now focuses not on the already revitalizing downtown but in places where city planners for decades have paid little if any attention — Detroit’s hard-hit neighborhoods."

Gallagher has reported in the past on the ongoing revitalization of Downtown Detroit, so his perspective on the changes at the Planning Department is insightful. Both Mayor Duggan and Cox have spoken about turning the city's, and the department's, focus onto growth, rather than shrinkage. "Cox has spent most of his first several months on the job staffing up the depleted planning department, more than doubling the number of planners on staff and adding new skills in landscape architecture, historic preservation, and more," according to Gallagher. That means new specific plans for neighborhoods and work on the "20-minute neighborhood" concept detailed in a Planetizen post by Philip Rojc in July.

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Published on Monday, December 19, 2016 in The Detroit Free Press
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