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Detroit Developers: Thoughtful Inclusion Key to City’s Ongoing Transformation

Watch the full panel discussion here. 

In the midst of countless projects underway, developers must continue to make intentional decisions to include all Detroiters in the city’s revitalization.

As part of the “Inclusive Development: Impacts of a Prosperous Downtown” panel, leading developers provided insight on projects throughout downtown, Midtown and the neighborhoods, while discussing ways to bring opportunities to residents.

“We are going to the places where people who do not appear to be participating in the recovery and need the opportunity are,” explained Peter Cummings, co-founder of The Platform. “Sustaining the momentum depends on the ability of broader sectors of the population to participate. Detroit is not blighted, it’s not distressed, it’s just grossly underserved.”

Inclusive Development panel discussion at 2017 Detroit Policy ConferenceBasco of Michigan President Roger Basmajian explained that it is also important that when buying buildings, a high priority is made to ensure tenants are not being displaced.

Taking a similar approach to Basmajian, Develop Detroit’s Sonya Mays discussed how important it is for developers and businesses to interact with existing communities.

“We want to go out and engage the people that will be most affected by the developments, meaning we try to develop from the bottom up, not the top down,” she said. “It is very labor intensive, but our perspective is that’s one of the best ways to make sure the work being done is for and includes the people affected, not being done to them.”

“At Develop Detroit we use a few different lenses to talk about inclusion, we talk about income inclusion, we talk about racial inclusion … and we talk about age inclusion and our philosophy is that you do have to be intentional if you actually care about making a change,” Mays added.

The panel also touched on barriers developers face in Detroit including: access to capital, brownfield development, millage taxes and infrastructure issues. All of the panelists said the city government has been a strong advocate for development.

This panel was moderated by Ignition Media Group CEO and Detroit Regional Chamber Board Chair Dennis Archer Jr.

Read more from the 2017 Detroit Policy Conference:

Christopher Ilitch: Teamwork, Collaboration Will Guide Detroit’s Bright Future