The implementation of a Complete Streets master plan along Woodward Avenue would give Berkley and Huntington Woods businesses and homeowners an economic boost, proponents said last week in Ferndale during the first in a series of interactive events.
The gatherings were part of the Woodward Avenue Action Association's efforts to collect public input for a Woodward Complete Streets master plan that aims to make the 27-mile stretch of the historic roadway from Detroit to Pontiac more safe, friendly and accessible for users of all modes and abilities.
The makeover would encourage economic growth along the corridor, proponents said.
"Spreading commercial districts along a corridor is an outdated suburban planning (strategy)," said Walkable and Livable Communities Institute Executive Director Dan Burden, who led a walking audit of Ferndale on Thursday. "To have clusters of shops and civic uses and parks is the future of the economy."
He said one of the goals of Complete Streets planning is to foster mixed-use development that promotes walkability and allows people to drive less.
"If you build a street correctly, so it can be used by all people, all the time, for all uses, then home values go up," he said. "Investors or developers want certainty that the street is making a commitment that the future will be a brighter place. So, economically, you can't do better than a Complete Street."
Burden cited a statistic from Walk Score, a website that rates a community's walkability on a zero to 100 scale, to illustrate his point. For each point increase on Walk Score, home values in the area increase $800 to $3,000, he said.
Berkley received a 72 on Walk Score and was rated as "very walkable," with most errands able to be accomplished on foot; Huntington Woods received a 48 and was rated as "car-dependent," with few amenities within walking distance.
Jason Fowler, WA3 and Woodward Complete Streets program manager, also noted that real estate websites such as Trulia have added walkability as a category on their listings.
"We now pay attention to walkability not just because we want people to be active and be healthy, but because it's the economic engine of the future," Burden said.
The effort to create a Woodward Complete Streets master plan – which is funded through a $752,000 Federal Highway Administration Grant – is being led by the WA3, in conjunction with consulting firm Parsons Brinckerhoff and a steering group comprised of representatives from Wayne and Oakland counties, the 11 municipalities along the 27-mile stretch, the Michigan Department of Transportation, M1 Rail, the Southeast Michigan Council of Governments and associated advocacy groups.
The information-gathering phase of the project will continue through June and a draft plan for the public to review will be released in the fall. It will include short-term, low-cost options; long-term, high-cost options; and methods to fund both. WA3 hopes to release a comprehensive Woodward Complete Streets master plan by early 2014.
Upcoming Complete Streets meetings in other communities include:
- Birmingham/Bloomfield Hills – May 20-22
- Bloomfield Township/Pontiac – June 3-5
- Pleasant Ridge through Berkley – June 10-12
- Downtown Detroit through Highland Park – June 17-19
"Like" Transform Woodward on Facebook to find out the events' locations when they are announced and get updates on the Woodward Complete Streets planning process.