Bye, I-375; Tons of new housing needed; Nain Rouge returns
Plus a new park, gimme (bus) shelter, and culinary success
Happy Friday! It’s Jer. I’ll be honest that I was glad to get out yesterday in the sun in Corktown for St. Patrick’s Day along with our Friday podcast co-host Devon. Though nowadays it’s more like a pint with a lunch instead of a day off, I enjoyed it all the same.
Let’s just jump into it, shall we?
What to know…
» 🚦 Turning I-375 in downtown Detroit into a boulevard took a big step closer to becoming reality. The Federal Government has done a study and said that the project would have no significant environmental impacts, meaning there’s a green light for design and then construction to start in 2027.
Built in 1964, the stretch of freeway that runs into Jefferson is well-worn and in technical terms “at the end of its useful life.” You can easily tell it if you walk or bike over the bridges like I have.
I’ve been following this story for years (here’s a PBS piece I produced in 2019). There are some big ideas in play:
In order to create the freeway, the government used now-illegal tactics to take the property away from the city’s biggest black neighborhoods and demolished the city’s biggest black hospital to build it (at that time, healthcare was even more clearly segregated).
Some commuters are upset about the idea of the freeway turning into a (still very wide) boulevard that would be arguably better for the people who actually live in the area, of which there are many.
It’s going to be very expensive to rebuild I-375 as it currently is, and traffic patterns are changing where a spur of a freeway isn’t worth the separation of two neighborhoods. The boulevard project is estimated at $150 million.
My two cents: The thing is about a city that has real energy is that it is in a constant state of change. After studying this from a bunch of angles, I personally think this is a great idea. If done right, it’ll help bring together Detroit’s Central Business District and Lafayette Park in positive ways. It doesn’t heal the wounds created by the construction of I-375, but it’s the beginning of a start.
» 🔌 Post-pandemic power shutoffs and high prices: If you feel like your power bill is high, you’re not crazy. A new report details that DTE’s residential electricity rates are in the top 5% of the nation. They’re higher per kilowatt hour than the largest utilities in other Great Lakes states like Illinois, Indiana, Minnesota, Ohio and Wisconsin.
Not only that — but when it comes to low-income residents — ProPublica says that DTE was more aggressive with shutoffs after the pandemic:
“DTE’s (shutoff) rate was twice as high as the state’s second largest utility, Consumers Energy, which serves areas with a similar share of low-income residents, according to an analysis of U.S. Census Bureau data.”
This is while investors are getting paid out a dividend of more than half a billion dollars a year, up 76% from 2010.
» 🏘 Big housing demand in the city: Chase Cantrell — a developer and head of the nonprofit Building Community Value — shared that there’s the need for 100,000 new housing units in the city. It was part of a wide-ranging conversation breaking down the 2022 State of the City speech by mayor Mike Duggan. It’s our most downloaded podcast of the last two weeks. [Apple Podcasts] [Spotify]
» 🏞 Meet the new Warren Gateway Trailhead Park. The four-acre park will be on border of Detroit and Dearborn off Warren, just west of Livernois. Connected to the Joe Louis Greenway, it’ll include a pavilion, fitness equipment, picnic tables, grills, restrooms, a community space and parking. Funded by the Wilson Foundation and City UTGO funds, it’ll be usable this fall and completed in spring of next year.
» 🚍 The wheels on the buses would go ‘round and ‘round on some routes again under a proposed $51 million plan. The Detroit Department of Transportation would be restoring weekday service on the Clairmount and Tireman routes. Plus, Federal ARPA funds could be used to create up to 16 new transit hubs to support the two in the city currently; 350 new shelters with solar power and some with next trip indicators; raising boarding platforms; (somewhat controversially) Project Green Light monitoring and more.
» 🍴 There are three Detroit finalists for James Beard awards. It’s one of the top culinary honors in the country.
Best Chef, Great Lakes: Omar Anani of Saffron De Twah for Best Chef, Great Lakes
Outstanding Pastry Chef: Warda Bouguettaya of Warda Pâtisserie
Best New Restaurant: Barda
Have you been to any of these? How did you like them? [Eater Detroit]
» 👩💻 Want a job in Detroit that also gives you a chance to do good work in the city? Challenge Detroit is looking for new fellows and companies looking to hire them. Whether you’re at the beginning of your career or looking to change gears, this is a neat opportunity. I know a number of alumni, and the founder of the program as well as an alumni stopped by the Daily Detroit podcast. [Challenge Detroit] [Apple Podcasts] [Spotify]
» 🍎 Apple has a new “Impact Accelerator” program. They’re looking to hire and provide capacity resources to environmental and services businesses that are at least 51 percent owned, operated, and controlled by an African American, Hispanic/Latinx American, or Indigenous American individual. Their goal is to be carbon neutral by 2030. I wouldn’t be highlighting it unless they personally reached out to me that they’re doing work in Metro Detroit (they are) and if you qualify you have a chance to be a part of it at no cost. Submissions due April 30, 2022. [Apple]
» 🇺🇦 A Metro Detroiter with deep ties to Ukraine is helping connect people in (or fleeing) the war zone with their loved ones. Meet DeTy.org - a website answering the question of “Where are you?” [Apple Podcasts]
…And where to go
» 🎻 Concert to benefit Ukraine at the Ukrainian-American Archives & Museum in Hamtramck. Featuring pianist Volodymyr Vynnytsky and violinist Natalia Khoma. $30; children under 18 years old are free. All proceeds from ticket sales and donations to aid Ukraine. 9630 Joseph Campau, Hamtramck. 6p on Saturday. [Museum website]
» 👹 The Nain Rouge returns this Sunday to the Cass Corridor. The parade and party is back after a pandemic hiatus. Starts on Cass and Second at 1p and marches eight blocks down Second, around Cass Park, and finishes outside of the Masonic Temple. There will be a party afterward, of course. I like the event because the parades, krewes and floats give me a bit of a New Orleans vibe. [Website]
» 😋 Dearborn Restaurant week starts today until March 27. There are fixed price menu options from $15-$40 depending on the place. On today’s podcast we talk about a pair of Devon’s favorites — M Cantina and TRIA. [Full list of restaurants]
⚜️ Le Rouge Report
» Match time v. Charleston Battery is 4p on Saturday. Keyworth Stadium, Hamtramck.
» DCFC is looking to bounce back after a tough loss to San Antonio FC, where the club did better than some national pundits thought it would.
A moment of gratitude
Thanks to Felipe who was an awesome supporter last week, buying us some coffees. Reader and listener support is crucial and helps keep us grounded and focused 100% on local coverage about Metro Detroit.
I got some useful feedback from that survey I sent awhile back, and we’re starting to make some big moves using it as a guide.
I think it’s important to never put a paywall on what we do, so everyone who wants to know what’s happening around the place we love can have access to it. So if you want to keep this all going, consider buying us a coffee (or two!)
Remember that you are somebody — and I’ll see you around Detroit.