From Vacant to Vibrant: City activates block in G/7 Strategic Neighborhood Fund area to showcase corridor’s potential

  • Activation along Gratiot near East McNichols includes local vendors, community gathering space, activities and more to showcase long-term potential
  • Site will be available for use throughout the summer as a community gathering spot and small business incubator
  • Pop-up is one of several revitalization efforts in larger Gratiot/7 Mile Strategic Neighborhood Fund area


Community members, vendors and city leaders flocked to a bustling pop-up event today on what for the past 15 years has been a vacant – but strategically located – block on the city’s east side. The intent of the activation – located along the west side of Gratiot just south of East McNichols – was so show off the site's potential as a future center of community activity and commerce.

The community-led placemaking event featured a day filled with excitement and entertainment for all ages, including a diverse array of vendors, food trucks, music, activities, and fun, creating a welcoming atmosphere for community members and visitors alike.

The pop-up location falls along a high-traffic corridor within the larger Gratiot/7 Mile Strategic Neighborhood Fund (SNF) area, which sees an average daily traffic volume of nearly 30,000 vehicles.  The creative approach to highlight this section was developed by the City’s Planning & Development Department and the Better Block Foundation and planned along with neighbors, who have been preparing the site for weeks.

"Change happens when the city and residents work together and have the support of private partners,” said Mayor Mike Duggan. “The Gratiot corridor has a glorious past and an event like this one can open people’s eyes to the possibilities that exist here and can be a first step toward revitalizing this commercial district.”

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Mayor Mike Duggan speaks at Councilwoman Latisha Johnson (Dist. 4) and others enjoy the activities at the G-7 pop-up activation.


The purpose of the SNF – which includes 10 neighborhood clusters across the city, is to spur a range of investments in each area, including commercial corridor improvements, housing development, park improvements and streetscapes.  The fund is managed by Invest Detroit and includes a $5 million investment from Fifth Third Bank into the G7 area.  Other planned investments in the G7 SNF area include:

  • $1 million for Commercial Corridor Investments
  • $1,825,000 for Heilmann Park Investment
  • $275,000 for Multifamily Housing Investment
  • $2.5 million for Single Family Housing
  • $9.9 million for blight remediation & demolition
  • $1.2 million for Manning Triangle Municipal Parking Lot
  • $3.7+ million for other neighborhood stabilization and streetscape improvements

Additional enhancements to the area being explored include murals and creative alley activations to create more community gathering places.

"Invest Detroit is thrilled to support the Gratiot/7 Mile activation through the Strategic Neighborhood Fund," said Jermaine Ruffin, Senior Vice President of Neighborhoods. "SNF was created to center the unique needs of each neighborhood through investment in residents and small businesses, leading to stronger and more resilient communities throughout Detroit.

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Fifth Third Bank, Regional Vice President for Eastern Michigan, David Girodat, stated, "We firmly believe that strong communities and strong banks go hand in hand. Since 2019, Fifth Third has invested $1 million per year in the Gratiot/7 Mile neighborhood through the Detroit Strategic Neighborhood Fund and Affordable Housing Leverage Fund. We know that when we work collaboratively with the city and community partners, these investments improve the lives of residents and business owners."

While today’s concentrated activity was a one-day event, the revitalized space will remain in place until the end of the summer and offer a highly visible space on a high-traffic corridor to serve as a community gathering spot and small business incubator.

Khalil Ligon, East Region Director at the City of Detroit Planning and Development Department, shared, "During the G/7 neighborhood planning process, residents expressed a strong desire for more retail options and improved commercial corridors in the area. Therefore, PDD is aiming to showcase the potential for commercial redevelopment in this area by integrating semi-permanent tactical design elements and social activities to help residents, stakeholders, and potential buyers envision the space as a vibrant, bustling part of this high-traffic commercial corridor and market the area for future development."

Krista Nightengale, Executive Director of Better Block, expressed enthusiasm, stating, "We are excited to be part of this transformative project in the Gratiot/7 Mile area. Our team looks forward to working with the community to create a vibrant and engaging space that reflects the unique character of this neighborhood."

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