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http://www.crainsdetroit.com/c gi-bin/article.pl?articleId=28 838
Urban strategist hired for Detroit push
By Robert Ankeny
• February 20, 2006

Community and business leaders have hired a nationally known urban land-use strategist to help in what local leaders have dubbed a “clean, safe and beautiful” campaign for downtown Detroit.

Christopher Leinberger is a visiting fellow at the Brookings Institution in Washington, and a faculty member for a University of Michigan graduate real-estate development degree program.
He led the public-private Historic District Improvement Co. in Albuquerque, N.M., for a decade before moving last year to Brookings and UM.

Leinberger’s work as a planning consultant will include coordinating discussion and planning sessions to include such groups as downtown businesses, property owners, and city officials, said Matt Cullen, general manager for economic development and enterprise services at General Motors Corp. and a board member of the Downtown Detroit Partnership.

A small group of these leaders met Feb. 8, and follow-up meetings are to be held to further develop concepts and proposals. No date has been set for the next meeting.

The Kresge Foundation has hired both Leinberger and consultant Mark Neithercut, former program vice president for the Community Foundation of Southeast Michigan, to guide the planning process.

Leinberger will be the keynote speaker March 16 at the Downtown Detroit Partnership’s annual meeting in the Detroit Marriott at the Renaissance Center. His topic: “The National Trend of Downtown Revitalization: How Detroit Can Catch Up, Move Ahead, and Set a New American Standard.”

Proposals discussed so far include creating a business improvement district, in which properties are taxed to raise money for sidewalk and street cleaning, landscaping, graffiti removal and even roving ambassadors, such as those who greeted Super Bowl visitors.

Also under discussion is creating an endowment that would provide income for beautification, preservation and cleanup that city business and government leaders want downtown.

George Jackson Jr., president of the Detroit Economic Growth Corp., said he supports the concept of endowments and an improvement district to preserve and expand on progress that Detroit made while preparing for the Super Bowl.

But Jackson said that decision-making about downtown improvements should include all of those affected, including both large- and small-business owners, property owners and especially city leaders.

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