Last week marked the groundbreaking (well, it was already fairly broken) of another Green Alley in Midtown. Having completed Detroit’s first Green Alley three years ago two blocks north of the El Moore, The Green Garage has begun work on improvements to the alleyway that runs behind the El Moore building. In planning for this alley we had similar goals to the one next to the Green Garage, including:
- Making the alleyway a safe, welcoming pedestrian pathway option for the neighborhood
- Implementing a passive system to allow the rainwater that falls on the alley to be taken naturally into the water table and diverted away from storm drains
- Allowing a space for native plantings to take root which creates habitat for native animals and insects
Three years after the completion of the first Green Alley, we’ve seen strong evidence that all three of these goals have been far exceeded, and the alley’s success has proven to be an inspiration to a planned network of alley improvements throughout Midtown. We’ve witnessed field mice gathering seeds in the fall from native grasses as well as butterflies and birds being drawn to the variety of plants now present in the alley. This summer, we’ve experienced the second wettest August on record, including a 100 year storm, and yet all of this rainwater was kept out of the sewer system and allowed to percolate naturally into the ground. Finally, we’ve seen neighbors conversing, kids riding bikes, apartment windows opened and even a few wedding photo shoots take place in the alley, a strong sign that the neighborhood has adopted the space as an community asset, a far cry from how it was considered in the past.
Now while the El Moore Green Alley has been designed to meet these same goals, it has an additional responsibility: It must still remain open to vehicle traffic. In order to accomplish this, the center 14 feet will be repaved to allow two cars to pass each other. Beyond this border will be a section of reclaimed cobble stones that will act as a “rumble strip,” letting drivers know they’re nearing the edge. Outside of the cobblestones will be the lattice pavers, which can still support a vehicle but are permeable to allow the rainwater to percolate through. Finally, there will be planting areas at the edge of either side of the alley for the planting of native species.
The anticipated completion of the alley will be in mid November of this year, with plantings taking place next spring. We’ll be posting updates on this site and you’re always welcome to stop by the Green Garage for our Friday Community Lunches to learn more.