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Effort seeks to ease redevelopment in Detroit neighborhoods

DETROIT (AP) — Detroit has started an effort to improve main streets in some city neighborhoods and ease bureaucratic hurdles.

The city is putting out a call to urban planners, architects, preservationists and designers for “Pink Zoning Detroit,” The Detroit News reported (http://detne.ws/2aYFgVE ). It seeks to transform the city’s complex land use rules and speed new development in its commercial corridors.

The project, funded by a $75,000 grant through the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation, will have three teams assemble visions for walkable, mixed-use activity in three areas. Later, potential roadblocks from the city’s zoning rules and building code will be examined.

Maurice Cox, director of the city’s Planning and Development Department, said the process hopefully will spur changes to make redevelopment easier.

“For us, it’s just kind of crazy that the urban life that we want is actually inhibited or stymied by the very rules that are supposed to enable them to happen,” Cox said. “We turn this upside down and say: ‘Let’s visualize the reality of this urban life that we want. Let’s look at where our current regulations don’t allow it and let’s just change the rules.’ This process will get us that.”

The project also could serve as a model for other cities hoping to boost such development, the newspaper said.

Team qualifications are being accepted through Sept. 16 and those selected to participate in the effort will be notified on Sept. 30. The groups will then embark on six months of research, design and analysis. Recommendations are expected next spring.

Pilot “pink zones” could be identified as early as next summer and allow the city to test relaxed rules within certain boundaries, Cox said. Corridors including East Warren, West Warren, East Jefferson, Vernor, Dexter and Livernois and McNichols could benefit.

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