The South 9 Pedestrian Alley off of West Nine Mile in Downtown Ferndale is a pedestrian connector between public parking and the Main Street of Downtown Ferndale. This 20 ft. wide alley is underutilized, but shows great potential for creating a visually enticing gathering place in the heart of the downtown. Downtown Ferndale is a densely-packed retail, entertainment and cultural district that is walkable from nearby residential neighborhoods and attracts people from all over Metro Detroit. However, the downtown does lack green space due to its density and urban qualities. The Ferndale DDA, as part of its downtown development plan, intends to transform utilitarian spaces like these into havens.
This alley is located west of Woodward on the south side of Nine Mile connecting West Nine Mile and Troy Street. Many years ago, a building burned down on this site, which the City of Ferndale removed and then created a pedestrian alley. There is limited seating and landscaping, but within the last few years, the owner of the Ferndale Arts Building, west of the alley, which houses local retailers and artists, commissioned a mural for the alley-side brick wall, adding life and vitality to the alley. To the east, a concrete wall buffers a private parking lot, and many retail businesses. The north end serves as an entry point to the Main Street; and to the south are the US Post Office, restaurants and public parking.
The Ferndale Downtown Development Authority goal is to expand on its wildly successful Pedestrian Alley Improvement program which turns utilitarian alleys into places where the public can rest and enjoy their downtown, while providing a visually interesting connection to the Main Street and its businesses. The South 9 Pedestrian Alley Improvement will become a popular gathering place for pets, humans and physically challenged by incorporating accessible amenities such as an ADA and dog-friendly drinking fountain, dog tie-outs, landscaping, benches and a public art installation as part of Downtown Ferndale’s ARTWN Project.
Following a complete streets ordinance; the DDA plans to improve services for a diverse audience, including art enthusiasts, the physically challenged and our large local population of pet owners, with this project. Because the alley already has some good attributes such as brick pavers, wide sidewalks and visual art; the redesign will build upon these attributes and add what’s been missing as well:
• A public art sculpture will be installed in the center of the alley as a focal point for pedestrians, in coordination with our ARTWN Project to be launched on June 28, 2012 and in place until May 2014;
• Landscaping will be added to help soften environment and provide much needed shade;
• Doggie tie-outs will be installed along the concrete wall that buffers the private parking lot adjacent to the alley so pets have a place to hang out while their owners take a break or patronage one of the local businesses;
• More colorful benches;
• A handicap and dog accessible drinking fountain, the first of its kind for Downtown Ferndale.
It complements the downtown’s green mantra with a place to refill water bottles. These additions will provide a unique setting for push cart vendors and encourage communal gatherings on a more regular basis. Downtown Ferndale patrons have requested amenities like these for years, and we cannot wait to provide it for them in a permanent installation.