Helping Create a Community-Driven Neighborhood Plan 

The Delray plan is one of several neighborhood plans created by the City of Detroit’s Planning and Development Department. For Delray, the City selected Rosetti, an architecture and planning based firm headquartered in Downtown Detroit, as lead consultant. Joining the team also, was Interface Studio, a planning and urban design firm based in Philadelphia. Having been selected to lead the community engagement strategy for the City’s Detroit Sustainability Action Agenda, DWEJ was added to this team to make sure environmental justice was incorporated into the conversation. Our goal was to make sure community needs would be accounted for throughout the process by helping to build the Framework Plan’s community engagement component.

A Bit More About Delray… 

The Delray Neighborhood Framework Plan is a proactive response to the construction of the Gordie Howe International Bridge/Trade Crossing between Windsor, Canada and Detroit. The 167 acre US terminal complex will be built in Delray. This construction project will radically alter the neighborhood through building the terminal complex, the destruction of numerous structures and roadways, and requiring the relocation of many residents. 

Delray is a historic neighborhood situated on the southwest side of Detroit. It was once called the “Hungarian Village” due to the many immigrants who settled there from that country. Over time, Delray and the surrounding neighborhoods became heavily industrialized and significantly underpopulated. Today, it is home to the expanded Marathon oil refinery and the largest sewage treatment facility in North America. Delray also shares a border with Detroit’s 48217 zip code, found to be the most polluted zip code in Michigan. 

Community Engagement Summary

As a result of the environmental justice issues faced by the Delray community, the Framework Plan includes a significant community engagement process, which DWEJ helped build with the rest of the consulting team and the Southwest Detroit Community Benefits Coalition, who is serving as the Delray community liaison. This inclusive Community Engagement Plan sought to build trust through resident surveys, interviews, public meetings, advertising, and data collection. In other words, the goal of the engagement process was to work with the people of Delray to create a collective vision for what the neighborhood might look like during and after the construction of the bridge, rather than informing them after the fact. 

After completing the initial phase and distributing surveys and informational materials throughout Delray in July, the next challenge was to obtain input from the ~430 households who decided not to move out of the neighborhood. It was important to reach and engage them so consensus could be developed around key issues, such as development and revitalization, economic development, transportation and access, environment and infrastructure, and vegetative buffers and screenings. 

Despite COVID-19 having affected our team’s community engagement efforts, we are still striving to make sure the voices of Delray neighborhood residents are heard throughout the planning process.

See the official Delray Neighborhood Framework Plan.

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