Kresge targets Detroit neighborhood projects with $ 1.5 million in support

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Detroit – The Kresge Foundation awarded the first round of grants in its Kresge Innovative Projects: Detroit Revamped program, and as with birthday gifts, it’s the idea that counts.

Money is nice too: $ 1.5 million, announced Tuesday and divided among 18 plans and projects to help revitalize neighborhoods in the city. But Kresge is a $ 3.8 billion operation that invests $ 160 million a year to move economic and social mountains, and she can find $ 1.5 million in her other pants.

What’s important, the recipients will tell you, is that it’s not about waiting for the downtown and Midtown overflow to spill over into the rest of the 89,000 acres south of Eight Mile.

It’s a way, said Amelia Duran of an operation called Garage Cultural, to help ensure that “we’re also thriving economically in southwest Detroit, because all of these new investments are being made in our city.”

Owner Billy Hebron (not pictured) believes that little door at the back of the building may have been used to deliver the coal the building was heated with at the time.

It’s a way, said Graem Whyte of Popps Packing, to complete the restoration of a storefront and adjoining house on the Detroit-Hamtramck border so locals can exchange skills, borrow tools, ” and talk to the neighbors and see what we have ”.

It’s a way, Jerry Ann Hebron said, of taking an old shoe polish and sweatshop in the North End next to the New Center, a place where Aretha Franklin sang, and “showing what’s possible in the community”.

The Kresge initiative, known to record 178 candidates as KIPD, began with a pilot phase of $ 5 million from 2015 to 2017. The relaunch commits $ 6 million over three years and includes a streamlined first round of the application process, an extension of the project completion window from 18 months to two years and an annual reserve of $ 500,000 to provide technical support and network assistance to beneficiaries.

“We found out that they might want to know more about how to build a volunteer base,” said Bryan Hogle, Kresge’s program manager. Or, they needed help with design services. Or, in a town where the left hand sometimes doesn’t even know there’s a right hand, they couldn’t navigate the funhouse mirrors of a permit office.

The 18 newly funded projects received up to $ 35,000 for planning or $ 150,000 for implementation.

Currently Jerry Ann and Billy Hebron store chairs here from another building they own.  They plan to restore this building.

A few stand out, such as a youth equestrian center called Detroit Horse Power. Most, like a wheelchair-accessible education center and event space in Jefferson-Chalmers, feature at least part of community unity.

“We really think neighborhood leadership is essential,” said Hogle, 38, a former US Navy surface warfare officer who lives in Pingree Park on the east side.

“Every neighborhood deserves positive things to happen,” he said, even if it’s on a scale too small or too narrowly focused to generally attract outside money. The simple goal in a complicated system is that in five or ten years “these neighborhoods will be a better place to live.”

Duran said Garage Cultural plans to be part of its impact with a modern essential: coffee.

That inspiration came when Cafe Con Leche, near Clark Park, closed two years ago. The last day of the store “felt like a funeral,” Duran said. “It has become really necessary for us to create a new base for the community to come together. “

The replacement will be part of a 3,200 square foot renovation to a warehouse where Garage Cultural already operates an arts and culture center. The new cooperative workspace and café bar will be called NOIS – both an acronym for Neighborhood Office and Incubator Space, and a tribute to its location to Livernois and Otis.

Along Carpenter Street, sculptor Whyte and his painter wife, Faina Lerman, already have their home and workshops and artist residency space in a former meat-packing factory on the Hamtramck side.

Jerry Ann Hebron, 69, poses in front of the building that she and her husband Billy, 68 (not pictured), both of Detroit, own the Legendary Red's Jazz Shoe Shine Parlor in Oakland near Owen in the North End neighborhood of Detroit, Saturday morning May 26, 2018.

Across the street to the south, they’ll be applying Kresge dollars to what they call Popps Emporium.

“It will house a bit of everything,” Whyte said, then added the magic words: “for the community”.

The Northend Christian Community Development Association is taking on the former home of the Red’s Jazz Shoe Shine Parlor, with its eye-catching rags on the front and eye-catching tunes on the back.

The second of five storefronts Red’s called home needs some attention from the roof down, Hebron said. North End needs space for local retail, local events, and occasional entertainment. When the vacant building went up for sale last year, it was an immediate forehand.

“We enjoy downtown, Belle Isle, these places,” Hebron said. “But I don’t always want to have to go downtown to relax, have fun or things like that.”

She would like to see these things within walking distance of her house. Kresge too – and he can put his money where his fingerprints are.

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Twitter: @nealrubin_dn


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