Yesterday I discovered Detroit’s best kept secret. There are nice neighborhoods in the city but even the most popularly promoted (Corktown
, the Villages
) are far from perfect. They have a street or two of nice homes but the next street will be abandoned. The unfortunate trend in the city was something I took for granted as a definitive reality. Turns out I was WRONG! The Grandmont Rosedale community
(a coalition of 5 neighborhoods) is flourishing. At this weekend’s open house Chris, Emily, Danny and I drove through neighborhoods that were fully occupied and had few abandoned properties.
The Open House registration was located in the neighborhood community center that is owned by the residents. It’s a beautiful 75 year old building that will soon undergo renovation for expansion. The building hosts community meetings, special events and performances by the local theater group, The Park Players
. And in a city that doesn’t have a reputation for being kid friendly it was nice to see a beautiful park with play equipment and sport activities for kids.
This weekend the residents of Grandmont Rosedale threw open the doors to the homes for sales and opened their arms to prospective new neighbors. An unfortunate problem in Detroit (and most cities going through transition) is the suspicion and animosity long-time residents have for new comers. The residents we met, displayed none of those sentiments. They welcomed prospective neighbors of any background as long as they had an interest in sharing in the positive community atmosphere they have worked to develop.
Checking out the picture perfect neighborhood I was inevitably curious about the challenges we all know the city struggles with. Similar to asking someone about their weight or age, asking about crime, schools and shopping can be a sensitive subject in Detroit. Luckily, the people I spoke to were open and honest about the problems facing their community.
As we drove around I noticed that most homes had signs for private security systems. The neighborhood organization collects money for private security – however, they’ve had to cut back on service hours due to the decline in contribution. The Detroit Police Department is in the process of restructuring and there is a possibility that there will be a precinct closer to the neighborhoods. In the meantime, the Grandmont Rosedale Development Corporation (GRDC) is spearheading an effort to have the area designated a Neighborhood Benefits District (NBD). As a NBD, the community will be provided with additional resources to improve public safety and city services in the community (i.e. snow removal). In addition to the improvements that are expected some have already taken place. One example is that all streetlights are being replaced with LED fixtures (a security measure that will also help prevent scrapping).
The Detroit Public School system as a whole deserves its poor reputation; however, there are individual schools that are being successfully run by quality principals and dedicated teachers. According, to the neighbors, Cooke Elementary is a good school. From the look of the building and the play ground I am inclined to agree. The GRDC also included a list of neighborhood schools
in its welcome packet.
When you ask about shopping it can appear to be a superficial concern but commerce is a key component in attracting people to and keeping them in an area. Currently, Detroit is far behind its suburban neighbors in places to shop and most people have to leave the city to purchase household goods but things are changing. Meijer
opened one location in the city last year and are working on building another store less than a mile away from the Grandmont Rosedale community. In addition, to big box attractions the GRDC is actively working to promote local entrepreneurs through a small business incubator known as Grand River WorkPlace.
I could go on and on about the activities taking place in the neighborhood but I’ll leave it at that and encourage you to visit the website
. Last but not least – the fun stuff. Most people assume all the homes in Detroit are falling apart but here’s a glimpse of what homes in Detroit actually look like.
16609 Greenview (North Rosedale Park)
This home looks small but it’s very large. Renovated by the GRDC with the use of grant funding from a neighborhood stabilization program, it is available for lower income families.
15875 Rosemont (North Rosedale Park)
This GRDC home in under construction but is available to any prospective resident regardless of income. The landscaping isn’t complete because the sewage system was replaced but the fully remodeled home is breathtaking.
Unlike the other two homes that were formerly abandoned, this house is owner occupied. Although the exterior (and interior) gives the impression that this is a new construction it was built in 1960.
16515 Rosemont Avenue (North Rosedale Park)
This is another recently occupied home. It doesn’t have the fancy updates the other homes did but it is in good condition and retains the character that I love in older homes.