Authors: Dr. Jezierski and Monica Edmonds
Vanguard Community Development is a non-profit community development corporation, founded in 1994 under the ministry of Edgar A. Vann and Second Ebenezer Church. Today, Vanguard is an independent community-based stalwart champion of Detroit’s Historic North End and continues to provide programs and services to the North End in the areas of Housing Development, Community Engagement and Planning and Economic Development. As part of Vanguard’s economic development footprint, Vanguard manages a commercial campus along the E. Grand Boulevard corridor in the North End Business District. This district was recently awarded a National Main Street designation (select level) in 2020. Since 2019, the area has seen a recent boom in development activity with over 5 new restaurants and multiple residential developments slated to begin construction.
Vanguard is planning to acquire 9,584 square feet of commercial property on E. Grand Boulevard, adjacent to their Community Campus. This Student-Led, Faculty, Guided project would include a feasibility study to determine the market for potential uses/tenants for the space, as well as a development plan for the use of this commercial property should they acquire it. In addition to this building, students could also look at the other two buildings on the campus to see if they have a better use than the existing uses (Goodwill store and offices). This project will firstly help Vanguard CDC make an educated financial decision on whether to buy this commercial property, adding to the CDC’s financial resiliency. In addition to that, the project will address the community/neighborhood needs and help low-income residents avail themselves of services that they may not otherwise be able to get, as the neighborhood has also been facing some gentrification. Uses such as co-working spaces with good internet infrastructure, makerspace, small business incubators also add to resiliency planning as well as provide 21st century communications infrastructure.