Detroit Eastern Market Neighborhood Framework Plan

Detroit, USA

Situated at the heart of a storied industrial city that is grappling with population decline, the Eastern Market neighborhood is a shining example of Detroit’s ongoing resurgence, as a rapidly growing economic hub that has food production and processing, start-up/incubation space, and retail all in one place – not to mention the artists and residents who call it home.

Challenge

Eastern Market’s economic success and cultural richness are attracting growth pressures from Downtown and Midtown Detroit; city officials realized that the neighborhood needed an integrated planning strategy in order to retain its core identity and function as an industrial mixed-use district.

In 2018, the Detroit Economic Growth Corporation (DEGC) selected a team of planning consultants, including Buro Happold, to prepare a Neighborhood Framework Plan. One of the most pressing issues was transportation – with so many different users in one space, it was important to manage the flows of people and goods, and maintain safety for pedestrians, bicyclists, and motorists alike.

Busy Detroit Eastern Market
A trading hotspot since the 1800s – Detroit Eastern Market is the oldest and largest year-round public market in the US. Image: Creative Commons

With a significant expansion of retail and industrial space planned for the market, this challenge was expected to become even more acute with expected increases in both trucking and pedestrian activity. The client team and key stakeholders did not want the Eastern Market visitor experience to be defined by frustration due to congested streets and hectic, unsafe crosswalks.

Rent-a-bike scheme at Detroit Eastern Market
With so many pedestrians, motorists and cyclists, it was vital to keep the flow of traffic safe, efficient and flexible. Image: Buro Happold

Solution

Through public meetings and workshops with the DEGC and Eastern Market Corporation, mobility planners on our team recognized that, despite there being so many different user groups and transportation modes, they shared many of the same priorities: safe, efficient, and enjoyable movement throughout the neighborhood.

Our experts then used this insight to develop a comprehensive neighborhood access and traffic management strategy as well as a parking asset management strategy. We also identified street and intersection design improvements, conducted a preliminary freight demand estimation and delineated heavy vehicle/trailer access routes. Additionally, our team prepared a quantity and cost estimate for financial modeling.

Getting the show on the road – our mobility planners created a traffic management system that reduces congestion. Image: Buro Happold

Value

Buro Happold blended mobility planning with strategic planning – rather than focusing on wholly new infrastructure, our team focused on the district’s existing assets – many of which were underutilized and inefficiently used. We identified small, inexpensive, targeted traffic flow interventions with the potential to significantly reduce congestion on peak market days.

Additionally, we developed a parking plan which shifted demand to existing underutilized resources, further reducing congestion in the market core. This included new designated activity areas – including a bulk pick-up area – proposed for the market using a reallocation of existing parking lot space to improve the movement of people and goods.

For DEGC and the Eastern Market Corporation in particular, this has allowed them to focus their investments on expanding and improving the market without unnecessary and expensive capital works in road and parking infrastructure. Moving forward, both the City and the Eastern Market Corporation have a phased plan to respond to market growth, and will be able to keep their investments in mobility both targeted and highly-effective.

Detroit Eastern Market on a bright day
As well as being a celebrated food hub, the historical market has cafes, live music, cooking demos and dance classes. Image: BuroHappold

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