Sep 1, 2023 - News

Calls to address Black Bottom's destruction continue

375 rendering

A rendering of the new I-75/I-375 interchange with the new boulevard in the distance on the right. Rendering: Courtesy of MDOT

Nonprofit Detroit Future City (DFC) wants investments made to try and help rectify the dismantling of historic Black neighborhoods Paradise Valley and Black Bottom in the 1950s-60s.

Why it matters: DFC writes in a new report that Detroit's "time for sweeping reparative investments" is "long overdue." The best subject for those investments is the loss of community and wealth that resulted from the government leveling those neighborhoods for I-375, housing and green space.

What's happening: The policy advocacy organization is joining other calls for action alongside the state's $300 million I-375 transformation buoyed by a federal grant. It would replace the freeway with a street-level boulevard.

Details: DFC sees the project as a "catalyst." But it's hoping for a wider public-private investment that focuses on descendants of those affected, plus homeownership, business district development and opportunities for Black developers.

  • It sees the impact area as not just I-375, but a mile circumference around Black Bottom, CEO Anika Goss tells Axios.
  • DFC plans to announce the framework for a new reparative investment fund in early 2024. Sources could include philanthropic dollars, venture capital and private equity.

Between the lines: The state has said it's committed to addressing the historical injustice through the I-375 project's execution.

Yes, but: A former Free Press columnist recently wrote that the new six-lane replacement will still be too much like a freeway to reconnect the places that the original split apart.

Of note: The city's Reparations Task Force plans to discuss the history of Black Bottom at its next meeting on Sept. 7.

  • It was established through a public vote in 2021 to give recommendations on addressing historic discrimination.

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