Tom Lewand, Mayor Mike Duggan's group executive for jobs and the economy, suggested to the Free Press that the Duggan administration is paying close attention to the Detroit Future City Plan, the controversial and intriguing framework for Detroit's coming decades that was released a year ago.
His comments, in an interview with Tom Walsh and John Gallagher, is one of the most solid indications to date that the Duggan administration sees the Future City Plan as a guidepost to Detroit's post-bankruptcy development.
Walsh and Gallagher wrote:
The Detroit Future City visionary framework for the city’s revitalization has found a new home in Lewand’s team. Pulling out his copy of the Detroit Future City plan, Lewand called it his Bible and said he’s working closely with former interim Mayor Kenneth Cockrel Jr., recently named to head the Detroit Future City implementation team.
The plan is a 347-page book that contains a dizzying array of slick maps, graphs and ideas about Detroit in the next 50 years. It contained such suggestions as organizing the city into various populations and commercial centers while building on vacant land such features as forests and retention ponds to capture rainwater, preventing it from flowing it into the sewer system.
The plan was the culmination of two years of planning by a team of global experts and conversations with 30,000 Detroiters. It was one of the most audacious plans ever conceived for the city, and If even part of its conceptions are ever realized, Detroit will be a city that no one alive today would recognize.
One of its suggestions was that the city concentrate its efforts on specific population centers and not attempt to provide expensive services across a huge area in which numerous neighborhoods are thinly populated. That raised the specter of moving residents out of their homes, a delicate issue in any redevelopment considerations.
According to Walsh and Gallagher, Lewand, 67, has considerable experience and influence with Duggan.
F. Thomas Lewand — or Tom Lewand Sr., as he is often called to avoid confusion with his son, Detroit Lions president Tom Lewand Jr., — worked as an attorney for 43 years with the Bodman law firm. For the last 28 of those years, he has been Duggan’s lawyer, friend, mentor and Democratic Party comrade.
Lewand was chief of staff to former Gov. Jim Blanchard and served as chairman of the state Democratic Party in the late 1980s. He was also former Gov. Jennifer Granholm’s point person in restructuring the Detroit Medical Center following a state cash infusion to keep the DMC alive. Duggan was then hired as CEO of the DMC and led the turnaround and sale there before running for mayor.