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Cody Rouge & Warrendale YOUTH-CENTRIC Neighborhood Framework

The Cody Rouge & Warrendale Youth-Centric Neighborhood Framework Plan is a broad community-driven vision that includes both near-term and long-term strategies for enhancing streets, neighborhood parks and recreation amenities, community-serving retail and housing. Clients for the project were the City of Detroit Planning & Development Department and Cody Rouge Initiative.

As a result of our work and the city’s initiatives, Detroit is now the first major US city to complete a comprehensive neighborhood plan backed with investments that puts youth at the center of planning and decisionmaking.

Our team’s plan advances the idea of working directly with young people in the process of planning for their neighborhoods. Our plan created a groundbreaking partnership with city officials, community leaders and young people on Detroit’s far west side.

The result? Young residents worked hand in hand with city leaders and resident organizations to identify community needs and design creative solutions. The resulting partnerships ensure young residents feel empowered, included and are true decisionmakers in shaping the present and future of their communities.

MMD is proud to be part of the planning team for this project, which included HECTOR urban design as the project lead and the following as team members alongside MMD: Centric Design Studio; Hinge Collective; Marc Norman; Tiny WPA; The Work Department; University of Orange Cody Rouge & Warrendale Organizational Steering Committee and Youth Council.

The plan synthesizes four main topics into a single, holistic framework. The Detroit Planning and Development Department’s vision for the city is “a healthy and beautiful Detroit built on inclusionary growth, economic opportunity, and an atmosphere of trust.” A major goal of this plan is to provide effective, innovative, and adaptable tools and approaches for achieving that vision, using Cody Rouge & Warrendale as the starting point.

One of these recommendations is the Joy & West Warren Street Safety Retrofits, which MMD helped design.

W Warren Avenue and Joy Road are the community’s main streets and front doors. They need to be safer for people to walk, cross, and shop. Although speed limits are 30 or 35 mph, the 100-foot width and current design of these streets encourage highway driving attitudes and speeds. Between 2014 and 2018, this stretch of West Warren Ave had a crash every 12 hours, and Joy Rd had a crash every 17 hours (SEMCOG).

Retrofitting these Warren County roads into more appropriate neighborhood streets is a matter of life and death. Proven low-cost techniques include narrowing lanes, lowering speed limits, increasing crossing times, formalizing parking, adding more trees, and creating a center left-turn lane. Painted bump-outs and bold crosswalks can make crossing these streets safer by decreasing the crossing distance.

These Street Safety Retrofits can alter the fundamental feel of these streets from highspeed and dangerous arterials to neighborhood main streets. These changes are foundational for other economic development strategies including youth-friendly neighborhood shopping areas.

The Cody Rouge & Warrendale YOUTH-CENTRIC Neighborhood Framework project was awarded The Planning Excellence Award at The American Planning Association’s 2023 National Planning Awards in October of 2023.

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Detroit, MI, Michigan
Detroit Planning and Development Department
In Progress
“Every house had a porch, a big porch, too. And so there’s adults on porches. Everywhere you walk, people are looking at you, they see you. So you’re always being watched whether you know it or not, by the adults in the neighborhood. And all the adults know each other. We didn’t know it then, but they really knew each other because of us. It was the children that connected the adults.”