In mid-2009, the W/CDC Board acknowledged that the eastside community we served had experienced massive population, housing and business loss, and decided to tackle the problem head on from a community perspective. We asked two other organizations – Jefferson East Business Association and Genesis HOPE CDC – to join the effort, then invited several other community development organizations serving the lower eastside from Alter Road to Mt. Elliott, East Warren to the Detroit River. Together with community residents and technical advisors, we created a plan using a CDAD-generated planning tool. Using a “typology” approach that looked at both current conditions and possible future directions, residents devised long-term directions, for stabilizing neighborhoods by reclaiming vacant land and property to productive uses, recognizing that we would probably not see “re-population” in the foreseeable future.
The LEAP Steering Committee that oversaw the planning process also chose to identify some actionable projects that could be implemented soon after, and endorsed several projects within the LEAP District that aligned with the LEAP typologies.
Initially funded by the Erb Family Foundation, Community Foundation for Southeast Michigan and Local Initiatives Support Corporation (LISC), the Lower Eastside Action Plan (LEAP) – done in two phase – was rolled out in 2012.
The Warren/Conner Development Coalition was asked by the Steering Committee to coordinate implementation of LEAP which started in 2013. W/CDC (now Eastside Community Network) agreed to do so and appointed a new Steering Committee, to serve as the de-facto board of LEAP. The Steering Committee composition – as decided by LEAP – is a) 4 community development organizations serving the LEAP District, b) 2 project sponsors, c) 2 technical assistance providers, d) 7 resident leaders representing all the neighborhoods in the LEAP District.
In 2013, The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency bestowed one of its National Awards for Smart Growth Achievement to the City of Detroit, because of its work in embracing the LEAP effort and committing to incorporating the LEAP typologies into the City’s Master Plan of Policies.