$17 Million Transformation of Shuttered Public Works Facility Envisions Retail, Community Space

A former Department of Public Works building sitting vacant at the corner of West Vernor and Livernois in Southwest Detroit could see new life as a retail center and community space.

A former Department of Public Works building sitting vacant at the corner of West Vernor and Livernois in Southwest Detroit could see new life as a retail center and community space. The $17 million redevelopment project is a joint effort of the Southwest Detroit Business Association (SDBA) and the Michigan Municipal League (MML) and is part of a larger transformative plan that tackles eight Michigan communities.

Vernor Crossing - Southwest Detroit

Vernor Crossing – Southwest Detroit

Called PlacePlans, the master project has shaped up as a partnership between the MML and Michigan State University’s School of Planning, Design and Construction, and is led at the state agency level by the Michigan State Housing Development Authority (MSHDA). According to an official statement from the MML, PlacePlans aims to help communities design and implement transformative projects to spur economic growth around walkable downtown districts.

“MSHDA is truly impressed with the innovative and creative work generated by the leaders and citizens in these eight communities—Cadillac, Detroit, Flint, Holland, Jackson, Kalamazoo, Marquette, and Midland,” said Gary Heidel, chief placemaking officer for MSHDA. “We now hope that these plans can become reality and help continue the positive placemaking work already under way in these cities,” he added.

Marketplace at Vernor Crossing - Southwest Detroit

Marketplace at Vernor Crossing – Southwest Detroit

The SDBA/MML Vernor Crossing revitalization project will transform the 7-acre, city-owned brownfield to create better connections between the adjacent neighborhoods and business districts. Vernor Crossing will be developed in phases and will feature 60,000 square feet to include retail soft goods, a shared market space for entrepreneurs across the neighborhood, as well as a flexible public plaza. According to conceptual plans created by Archive Design Studio, Vernor Crossing will include the adaptive reuse of the existing industrial structure, as well as other nearby structures.

According to The Detroit News, the key element at the future Vernor Crossing project will be preserving and respecting Southwest Detroit’s rich cultural heritage, as the neighborhood has a history of more than 100 years of immigrant entrepreneurs. The site has already been cleaned up and the next step is to secure funding for the project.

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Renderings via the MML and Archive Design Studio