City of Dearborn: West Downtown Activation Strategy Presentation

Report National Resource Network Dearborn, Michigan March 20, 2017 Economic Development

In 2016 the National Resource Network partnered with the City of Dearborn, Michigan, to evaluate options to use City-owned real estate assets to help advance the revitalization of the West Downtown neighborhood. The attached report summarizes the Network’s recommendations for using these catalyst sites to revitalize West Downtown by attracting new residential development that would support additional retail and increase the level of activity and energy downtown.

Dearborn is the site of the world headquarters for the Ford Motor Company and boasts two downtown commercial districts, East Downtown and West Downtown. The five block West Downtown neighborhood had been significantly affected by the great recession and experienced a substantial increase in retail vacancies. The City owns multiple full-block surface parking lots that offer free parking and that do not fill with vehicles, underutilized land assets that could be used to attract renewed development to West Downtown.

The Network conducted a market study to determine the feasibility of new uses downtown, with a focus on new multifamily housing. The Network then worked with the City to identify four catalyst sites for further evaluation and created hypothetical developments for each site. The Network the estimated the financial feasibility of a hypothetical development for each site and identified incentives to help close gaps between the total development costs and the level of costs supported by market rents.

The Network provided six recommendations for revitalizing West Downtown, including releasing requests-for-expressions-of-interest for the underutilized City-owned parking lots to generate developer interest in the sites, and implementing a form-based code and zoning that prioritized mixed-use development for West Downtown.

The Network’s engagement team in Dearborn was led by Network consortium member HR&A, and subconsultant SmithGroup JJR Architects.

Find the associated Dearborn, MI report here.

City of Dearborn: West Downtown Activation Strategy Presentation