Vibrant Blocks for Business
A Main Street Design Guide for More Beautiful Commercial Districts
“…A vibrant, bustling retail district is not measured by the size of the district, but the character of the street.”
– DEGC Neighborhood Retail Opportunity Study
Detroit’s commercial corridors are instrumental in supporting local businesses, residents, and neighborhoods. They define Detroit’s urban fabric and establish a citywide network of commercial districts. The design and maintenance of these corridors are crucial in making sure local and national retailers and businesses thrive within the city.
A well-designed commercial corridor can uplift local businesses and incubate new ones, stimulate hyper-local economies and keep money in the community, provide access to jobs, goods, and services, encourage walking and alternative transportation, and be the center of cultural and social activity all in one place. However, with all that activity comes many design challenges that call for comprehensive design strategies. Vibrant Blocks for Business will be a go-to guide for the city, developers, landowners, and business owners to help align desired uses with high-quality urban design and maintenance strategies.
Ultimately, the goal of the guidelines is to enhance the City’s standards for urban and architectural design within commercial districts, streamline the development process and remove barriers to community development, improve the quality of life and community character for residents and visitors, enhance the aesthetics of the built environment, and foster vibrant, walkable, and pedestrian-friendly commercial streets. The final work will result in a living document that is easy to use for novice and experienced developers and existing and new business owners. Properly coordinated by various partners, the Vibrant Blocks for Business design guide will help lead Detroit’s commercial corridors into the future.
What you need to know:
WHAT IS A “COMMERCIAL CORRIDOR”?
The City of Detroit’s commercial corridors and main streets cross every district and neighborhood. At least some blocks along commercial corridors are lined with commercial land uses like retail stores, offices, or restaurants. The vitality of the businesses, business mix, character, and streetscape along these streets varies broadly from area to area. “Main Streets” are a more specific zoning designation codified in Detroit’s Zoning Code.
WHAT IS A DESIGN GUIDE?
The Vibrant Blocks for Business Main Street Design Guide will align desired uses with high-quality design while providing a tool for both the City’s coordinated design review and redevelopment community. Whereas the City’s zoning code identifies the type of development appropriate in different areas of the City, the Vibrant Blocks for Business Main Street Design Guide will be a supplement that articulates more specific physical and material requirements and building standards that will shape the look and feel of a new construction or major renovation projects. The goal is to streamline the design process for new construction and redevelopment, support local businesses in creating places for community building and socializing, enhance greening within the environment, and encourage walkability along Detroit's commercial corridors and main streets.
WHO WILL USE THE VIBRANT BLOCKS FOR THE BUSINESS MAIN STREET DESIGN GUIDE?
Anyone interested in the major renovation or new construction of a building or parcel along with one of Detroit’s commercial corridors or main streets.
WILL THE DESIGN GUIDE IMPACT EXISTING STRUCTURES OR PROPERTY OWNERS?
Yes! We recognize that the challenges that many of Detroit's commercial corridors face are related to maintenance or physical deterioration of aging structures and small storefront businesses. The pandemic exacerbated financial strain already experienced by many business owners in the City. It is our hope, that by partnering with the Buildings, Safety Engineering, and Environmental Department (BSEED) and the General Services Department (GSD) in this effort, the Vibrant Blocks for Business design guide will also provide a new strategy for maintenance and resolution of building code violations, as well as create new avenues for communication with area property owners and promotion of available resources to support additional upkeep and improvements by private property owners.
HOW CAN YOU GET INVOLVED?
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