Public art and custom bike parking are coming to the Villages.
The Villages Community Development Corporation (VCDC
) was awarded a $25,000 Kresge Foundation Detroit Program Community Building Grant to fund the implementation of targeted pedestrian improvements to the Van Dyke corridor on Detroit's near East Side.
The improvements will be concentrated in the Van Dyke/Agnes area, with some additional improvements to Kercheval Ave. and Jefferson Ave. The Villages include West Village, Indian Village, the Berry subdivision, East Village, Islandview Village and the Gold Coast.
"The project is to enhance the sense of place along the Van Dyke
connector in West Village to create a more inviting environment which
attracts retail tenants and investment to the Villages' targeted nodes,"
says Kirsten Ussery, board of directors' president of VCDC.
The $25,000 will fund a rain garden landscaping demonstration project in a visible area; install public art and signage to reinforce a sense of place, landscape vacant properties, repair streetlights and clean avenues.
By planting trees, shrubs and flowers in a vacant lot in the Van Dyke Corrdor, Ussery says the garden will allow runoff generated by surrounding lots to collect in the ground. She hopes it will improve water quality in the area, while serving as a pilot project for combating potential storm runoff issues. They plan to collaborate with the Sierra Club, local garden clubs and members of the area's community garden.
For public art, though Ussery didn't have all the details at this time, she envisions creating something sculptural, rather than murals. The VCDC may collaborate with area universities on the project.
All of these improvements should be completed by fall 2011 and they're the first of many to come for The Villages.
"The Van Dyke corridor is very important to us, because it's one of the most walkable corridors in the area and it's adjacent to Agnes, which has a lot of retail potential," she says. "What we ultimately envision is a main street district that will promote culturally diverse business ownership and employment."
Source: Kirsten Ussery, president, VCDC board of directors
Writer: Ashley C. Woods