Saying ‘bye’ to strip malls in Detroit’s Midtown?

Midtown Detroit Inc., a nonprofit active in the redevelopment of Midtown, is currently lobbying for new zoning regulations that would change the current layout of the area. With these new regulations, the typical strip mall –single-story shops with a parking lot – would virtually be banned! Significant conditions would be required to build new ones. Midtown Detroit contends that strip malls do not promote walkability in urban areas and are counterproductive to accessibility and business growth.

As an alternative, Midtown Detroit is pushing for a continuous “street wall” of buildings- streets where buildings touch each other, with shops or offices on the street levels and possibly housing units above. In addition to essentially banning strip malls, the new zoning would exclude domestic abuse shelters, pool halls, substance abuse centers, tattoo parlors and soup kitchens. Even drive-thru windows for banks or fast food restaurants would require a special clearance.

While the new zoning does not apply to all of Midtown and there are other areas these types of uses can be built, it covers a significant portion. It will apply to future development and not operate to force old businesses and nonprofits to move.

The Detroit City Council could vote on this matter as early as next month. What are your thoughts? Check out the Detroit News piece on this proposed zoning here !

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