Detroit, the El Moore, and Jane Jacobs

440px-Jane_JacobsThe El Moore is a project under construction that will be a model of urban residential sustainable living. Like most cities in the United States, Detroit went through a phase of “urban renewal” in the mid-20th century, with very mixed results. Jane Jacobs, author of the seminal 1961 book on urban planning, The Death and Life of Great American Cities, helps “new” urban planners to understand the components of livable cities and functional neighborhoods. This post, a part of the series called the “Voice of Detroit”, describes how Jane Jacobs still influences development in Detroit.

“Cities have the capability of providing something for everybody, only because, and only when, they are created by everybody.”

Jane Jacobs, The Death and Life of Great American Cities

How is the El Moore project, like the Green Garage before it, incorporating and/or dispelling some of the ideas of Jane Jacobs?

* Density is good. As people move back into the City of Detroit, the density of the neighborhoods will increase. According to Jacobs, density  equals good stores, better services, and more street life, which also means safer neighborhoods.

* Diversity is good. One of the goals of the El Moore project is to help the surrounding neighborhood stay diverse in race, age, family status, income, interests, and all other demographics.

* Vendor space is good. An important component of the El Moore project will the “El Moore Seasons”. In this corner area will be a four-season indoor/outdoor retail building along the north side of the property with an entrance along Second Avenue and food vendor windows opening onto the El Moore Gardens, a four-season community gathering place. Construction for the El Moore Gardens and the El Moore Seasons will begin in 2015.

The Death and Life of Great American Cities by Jane Jacobs is available at Source Book Sellers, located a few great walkable blocks from the El Moore.