Lowertown: A Collaborative Effort in Sustainable Urban Redevelopment

EPA Grant Number: SU831874
Title: Lowertown: A Collaborative Effort in Sustainable Urban Redevelopment
Investigators: Larsen, Larissa
Institution: University of Michigan
EPA Project Officer: Page, Angela
Phase: I
Project Period: September 30, 2004 through May 30, 2005
Project Amount: $10,000
RFA: P3 Awards: A National Student Design Competition for Sustainability Focusing on People, Prosperity and the Planet (2004) RFA Text |  Recipients Lists
Research Category: Pollution Prevention/Sustainable Development , P3 Challenge Area - Built Environment , P3 Awards , Sustainability


As urban areas continue to grapple with the environmental and social consequences of sprawl, creative new plans to manage growth must be explored. The city of Ann Arbor, Michigan, has been battling urban sprawl for decades and is currently focused on revitalizing existing urban areas as a result of the city's recent greenbelt initiative. The Lowertown neighborhood has been targeted as an area ripe for urban redevelopment. This area of the city has been underutilized for decades, yet rests within one of the most ideal and accessible locations in Ann Arbor. Over the past three years, business investment has slowly returned to Lowertown and citizens groups have begun to develop a master plan for this emerging neighborhood.

An experienced and interdisciplinary team of graduate students from the University of Michigan, along with their client, the Lowertown Business Association, have formed a collaborative partnership to devise an integrated and innovative set of sustainable design principles for the redevelopment of the Lowertown neighborhood. In part, these principles will center on brownfield remediation, the creation of a connected and integrated greenway park system, and plans to reduce auto traffic through improving pedestrian mobility. The Lowertown redevelopment project centers on the P3 principles by seeking to enhance cultural and social opportunities for city residents (People), encouraging new, locally owned businesses (Prosperity), and developing a mixed-use master plan that integrates principles of sustainable design and smart growth (Planet). Both the neighborhood association and the graduate student master's project team strongly believe in the principles of sustainability and have the professional experience to create urban redevelopment projects that are economically, politically, environmentally, and technically feasible.

Results of this twelve-month project will be captured through a comprehensive master plan for the Lowertown neighborhood. This plan will not only be used by the Ann Arbor Planning Commission, but will also be used extensively at the University of Michigan as a teaching tool to create ecologically sustainable urban development projects. In addition, the master's project team will create a Michigan Cool Cities Handbook to comprehensively address the challenges and benefits of incorporating sustainable design into urban redevelopment plans. This handbook will be distributed to other cities within the state of Michigan and will play an important role in Governor Jennifer Granholm's statewide initiative to revitalize the state's urban centers as a way to stimulate economic and cultural prosperity within the state.

Supplemental Keywords:

urban redevelopment, brownfields, sustainable design, ecosystem protection, RFA, Scientific Discipline, Geographic Area, Sustainable Industry/Business, POLLUTION PREVENTION, waste reduction, Sustainable Environment, State, Technology for Sustainable Environment, Environmental Engineering, Urban and Regional Planning, sustainable development, waste minimization, green design, holistic design, ecological design, environmental conscious construction, green building design, alternative building technology, engineering, pollution prevention design, collaborative urban planning, environmentally conscious design, Michigan (MI), architectual design

Relevant Websites:

Project Description

Progress and Final Reports:

  • Final Report