Voices of Detroit: Defining a Neighborhood

A historic photograph of the Cass Corridor, near the location of the El Moore.
A historic photograph of the Cass Corridor, near the location of the El Moore.

The El Moore is on a residential block that is part of an already existing neighborhood, and located in the Midtown District. How do we define a “neighborhood?” Each person you ask may have a different answer, but the most commonly accepted definitions include: “a district that forms a community within a town or city” and “the area surrounding a particular place, person, or object”. The City of Detroit has long been known as a city of neighborhoods, and our town still holds the record of the highest number of single-family homes in the nation.

The El Moore, a residential apartment complex that is designed to be a model of urban sustainable living, is located on the 600 block of West Alexandrine. When fully completed in the 2nd half of 2016, the El Moore complex will include five separate components: the El Moore Residences, thirteen annual rental apartments; the El Moore Lodge, a 10-room urban lodge that will be a connection to the community for short-term visitors to our city; the El Moore Gardens that will be a community gathering space and performance venue for the entire surrounding neighborhood; the El Moore Seasons, which will be a four season, indoor/outdoor retail building for entrepreneurial businesses to serve the wider community; and the Green Alley, which will be a beautifully restored greenway to promote walkability, environmental sustainability, and increased economic activity.

Neighborhoods are usually named in various ways: after the streets that form the neighborhood’s boundaries, after the ethnic community that immigrated and built a community in the area, after a famous or infamous person who lived in the area, or after a landmark.

For the El Moore, the operative word in the definition of neighborhood is “community”. The five segments of the El Moore were specifically designed to build a diverse and inclusive community around the El Moore building, which itself is an almost 120-year-old landmark.

The El Moore is definitely part of an already existing neighborhood with long-term residents of all ages, stages in life, races, and cultures. There are several named neighborhoods nearby: Woodbridge, West Canfield, West Alexandrine, the Auburn, and so on. All of those neighborhoods are part of the larger Midtown or Cass Corridor district, but what will the neighborhood where the El Moore is located be called? How about “the El Moore Neighborhood?”

In future posts, we will continue to explore and attempt to define what constitutes a block, a neighborhood, a community, and a district in our beautiful City of Detroit.