Hey everyone,

How do you feel about the quality of services you get from the city? If you’re not happy, would you want to pay a bit more in taxes to upgrade some of them?

Detroit neighborhoods can become “special assessment districts,” which can offer private security and snow plowing in exchange for higher taxes. East English Village almost became the fifth neighborhood in the city to get the designation, but dropped the campaign after some community opposition. We wanted to learn more about these districts, what they offer and how you could get one for your neighborhood.

We’ll also highlight a few public projects in Detroit that got a boost in the state’s recent budget, including one in Midtown announced way back in 2019. 

As always, thanks for reading.

The Dirt

>>Redevelopment reboot: One of the larger carve-outs among the millions in economic development grants approved by the state legislature last week was $12 million for the Midtown Cultural Center Planning Initiative to create a walkable museum district in Detroit. The design was announced back in 2019 but funds were needed to jumpstart the project. The $38 million first phase will rebuild an underground parking deck but will start only once all the money is raised and take around 18 months to complete. The broader plan could take up to 20 years to finish. Another public space revamping is the Monroe Street redesign in Greektown, which got $20 million. DETROITography provided a full run-down of all the grant winners in Detroit and notes a few that were denied grants, like the Detroit Grand Prix and Detroit Symphony Orchestra. (Crain’s Detroit Business, Detroit News, DETROITography)

>>Belle for whom? The Michigan Department of Natural Resources and other partners took on a series of renovations and redevelopments on Belle Isle to make it a more usable and exciting destination for visitors. But officials have noticed a dip in engagement with the island park from young Detroiters since the state took control of it in 2014. Some say the presence of state police and an entry fee make it less welcoming, and that there isn’t much for young people to do. Park managers say they’re working with schools and recreation centers to create more youth programming on the island. (Outlier Media, BridgeDetroit)

>>Second chance: Months after its bid to buy Cooley High School was pulled by the Detroit school district, Life Remodeled is set to buy the Marvin L. Winans Academy of Performing Arts for $1.7 million. Life Remodeled CEO Chris Lambert said it will redevelop the property into a second community hub, as it’s done with the Durfee Innovation Society, at a cost of $7 million. The nonprofit claims it services more than 22,000 Detroiters each year at its Durfee hub near Central High School, which is for students and residents alike, offering programming around workforce development, health and human services and youth activities. (Chalkbeat Detroit, Crain’s Detroit Business)

Dig This

Taxing yourself for enhanced services

Row of two-story brick homes on a residential street. The small front lawns all have green grass.
Homes in East English Village, where residents recently decided not to adopt a “special assessment district.” Photo credit: Aaron Mondry

Residents in a handful of Detroit neighborhoods have agreed to increase their taxes to add extra security and snow plowing. Is it worth it?

Find out more about these “special assessment districts,” how they came to be and how much it costs to live in one.

One Good Mansion

The last of its kind

Two-story mansion made in the style of a French château, with stone walls, towers on each corner, copper roof spires and green landscaping. It is next to a seven-lane street.
The Hecker House, built in 1892, is filled with incredible architectural details. Photo credit: “Hecker House – Detroit Michigan” by Andrew Jameson, licensed under CC BY-SA 3.0

The Col. Frank J. Hecker House is one of the few remaining elegant homes that once lined Woodward Avenue, according to a recent Facebook post from Historic Detroit

Historic Detroit says the home has “stayed mostly unchanged” since it was built 131 years ago. Thank goodness for that. Take a look at the absolutely astounding interior with sumptuous woodwork in nearly every room. The home was listed on the National Register of Historic Places way back in 1971. 

The Hecker House is currently owned by Wayne State University, but is criminally underused. It currently houses the university’s Office of Alumni Relations, which uses it to host alumni events.

Aaron (he/him) believes in telling true stories about real people. He doesn’t think there’s anything better than a crisp fall afternoon at the Detroit Jazz Fest.