Livability Solutions

Illustrating the Value of Green Infrastrcture for Detroit's Lower East Side

May 2012


Warren Conner Community Development Coalition/Lower Eastside Action Plan (LEAP)



The Lower East Side of Detroit spans 15 square miles and has a population of approximately 50 thousand. There are 10 thousand vacant properties in the community and significant divestment which was accelerated by the economic downturn of the late 2000s. The Lower East Side Action Plan (LEAP) was developed by a coalition of organizations serving the community through reclamation and reuse of vacant land.

LEAP had already engaged thousands of community members in long range planning and had identified a number of short term development projects. Green infrastructure presented an opportunity to turn the community's liability (vacant properties) into an asset, so LEAP and Warren Conner Community Development Coalition sought technical assistance from Livability Solutions.

LEAP and Warren Conner Community Development Coalition, in collaboration with Project for Public Spaces and Livability Solutions' designated technical assistance provider (Center for Neighborhood Technology) designed a program of technical assistance to produce a defensible and persuasive estimate of the value of various green infrastructure strategies suitable for Detroit's Lower East Side.


Prior to the on-site training, CNT conducted a webinar for stakeholders that explained the benefits of green infrastructure and its potential application in the Lower East Side. The webinar demonstrated use of the Green Values Calculator, Storm Water toolbox, and GI Portfolio Standard Process.

The May 18, 2012 on-site training had three objectives:

  1. Introducing GI valuation tools to local and regional stakeholders;
  2. Identifying GI opportunities by engaging local residents in a mapping exercise; and
  3. Building connections across jurisdictions to build consensus on the best approach to GI stormwater management.

Following the workshop CNT conducted valuations -- using the National Green Values Calculator-- for two sites in LEAP target area, and developed a methodology for conducting a citywide GI valuation.


LEAP received the National Award for Smart Growth Achievement from US EPA in 2013.

Greening of Detroit, a nonprofit resource agency that assists neighborhood groups with improving the ecosystem in Detroit, installed two trees at one of their sites using the green infrastructure tools learned at the training.

Detroit's Water Sewer Department was awarded a grant from the EPA in 2013 for the Great Lakes Shoreline Cities Green Infrastructure Project near East Side.

In 2013-14, LEAP convened a workgroup of partner organizations and residents to begin work on one of the project's major policy recommendations: the creation of a 'Green Zone' in the LEAP District.