Detroit Stories: Land Policy Institute Helps Lead Urban Development Study

Those who really know the city of Detroit are aware of its countless triumphs, big and small, and its enduring spirit. Stories of renewal and resurgence abound, as many, including Spartans, continue to invest in the city, its work, and its people.

November 19, 2015

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Contact: Andy Henion, Media Communications, Andy.Henion@cabs.msu.edu

Those who really know the city of Detroit are aware of its countless triumphs, big and small, and its enduring spirit. Stories of renewal and resurgence abound, as many, including Spartans, continue to invest in the city, its work, and its people.

For decades, Michigan State University has been working with partners in Detroit to support economic development, advance the arts, transform schools, improve health, and sustain the environment. Like Detroit, MSU values resilience, hard work, and a commitment to solving problems and empowering people for better lives.

Detroit is one of the seven metro areas that are part of the Michigan Walkable Urban Places study led by MSU’s Land Policy Institute.

Michigan State University’s Land Policy Institute is helping conduct the Michigan Walkable Urban Places study to assist in planning future development blueprints for the state of Michigan.

The study will assess walkability trends and real estate demand in seven metro regions: Detroit-Ann Arbor; Flint; Grand Rapids-Muskegon-Holland; Kalamazoo-Battle Creek; Lansing; Jackson; and Saginaw-Midland-Bay City. 

MSU serves as a liaison to the organizations and individuals in the areas, including regional councils of government, metropolitan planning organizations, local planning officials and real estate developers.

Recent research across the United States has shown that the most walkable urban areas appear to have wealthier and better-educated populations. These environments also show strong real estate demand. The goal of the study is to determine whether these trends are also apparent in Michigan metropolitan areas. It’s the first time the major Michigan cities have been analyzed in this way.

“Across the nation, we are seeing a shift in demand from drivable suburban to walkable urban lifestyles,” said Mary Beth Graebert, associate director of the Land Policy Institute. “Even in Michigan, where automobiles have driven our development for decades, we’re witnessing this trend in certain areas.

“Responding to this trend will require a host of public and private sector leaders to change how we finance, design and build real estate to enhance walkability in our downtowns.”

Graebert is participating in the study along with four others from MSU, including Lauren Bretz, a student and research assistant for the Land Policy Institute.

The findings of the WalkUP study will be released June 23 at the 2015 LOCUS Michigan Leadership Summit at the One Woodward Building in Detroit. The full report of the Michigan WalkUP project will be available at the Land Policy Institute website following the June event.

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