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Rendering of improvements to McNichols (Six Mile).

A program pitched by Mayor Mike Duggan to make 23 of the city of Detroit’s commercial streets more attractive and pedestrian friendly was approved by the Detroit City Council.

The idea is that through this investment, and follow-up investments by businesses, Detroit would recapture some of the estimated $2.6 billion in spending Detroit residents do annually in surrounding communities, according to a study soon to be released by the Detroit Economic Development Corporation (DEGC).

Here’s the plan for how the $125 million in bond money will be spent.

  • About $80 million of the bond revenue would fund major infrastructure improvements along the city’s key commercial corridors, such as Livernois-McNichols, West Vernor and East Warren. On the to-do list for the corridors are landscaping and reconfiguring traffic lanes to add bike lanes, improved street parking and in some cases wider sidewalks to allow for outdoor café seating.
  • $45 million will complement existing road funds to improve 300 miles of city roads and replace hundreds of thousands of broken sections of sidewalk across the city.

Because the city of Detroit is still under financial oversight, the bond sale must next be approved by the Financial Review Commission (FRC) and Michigan Finance Authority (MFA).

According information the city has provided from the yet to be released DEGC report, major improvements will bring millions of dollars back to some of the city’s retail corridors. One corridor, at Livernois and McNichols, for example, could capture $215 million in retail activity annually.

So where are the dollars coming to pay back the bond? Not the general fund or would there be money diverted from current projects, says the city. Detroit is receiving increased revenues from their share of state gas taxes and vehicle registration fees that have not been included in its current road improvement plan. Instead of piecemeal work, the administration wanted to get the dollars together for a bigger push.

Map of proposed improvements. Source: City of Detroit

The 23 corridors are: Livernois, W. McNichols, E. Jefferson, W. Jefferson, Jos Campau, Kercheval, Vernor, Bagley, Clairmount, Russell, Beaubien, Fisher Fwy. Service Dr., E. Warren, Dexter, Lawley, E. Davison Service Dr., Mt. Elliott, Redford St., Puritan, Warwick, Plainview, Plymouth and 7 Mile.

At least 51% of all work hours on the publicly-funded projects, according to the city, will be done by city residents, and for prime contractors, they anticipate to award 100 percent of the business to Detroit-based businesses.

The bond money is expected to be available in mid-November to begin work.