The project site includes three locations between Six and Eight Mile Road along Woodward Avenue in Detroit. 700 sunflowers are planned to be planted in May 2012. Dubbed “The Park District” , the area represents an eclectic blend of stability and blight. Although Woodward is the common thread within the district, the demographic composition of the east and west side neighborhoods differ dramatically. The area east of Woodward has a median income of $16,557 with 40.9% of families with income living below the poverty line. The west side of Woodward presents a different picture with the median household income $69,464.
Businesses along this stretch of Woodward represent a wide variety of retail operations including: restaurants and bars, motels, professional services, fast food, automotive and medical uses, offices, and a bowling alley. Overall, it is a neglected area of the city that until two years ago was void of a community vision. However, the area is home to wellknown cultural and recreational amenities like historic Palmer Park, the Palmer Woods Neighborhood Association, the Penrose District and the State Fairgrounds. The majority of the district is challenged by distressed neighborhoods, deteriorating buildings, and includes a large number of vacant and abandoned properties resulting in a high level of disinvestment. Many families with young children and residents live in the area.
These challenges contribute to a negative stigma that must be overcome through positive physical and environmental changes that we’re hopeful the Sunflowers Over Woodward project is sure to achieve.
The goals of the Sunflowers Over Woodward project are :
1) To provide impactful focal and community gathering areas to draw the community together around a common point of pride in their community.
2) To provide a positive visual impact within the Park District to help decrease the negative stigma of the area.
The area between Six and Eight Mile Road is void of many physical and place-making elements. Recently the Friends of Palmer Woods installed a public art sculpture anchoring the Park on the southwest corner of Six Mile and Woodward. One of the planned sunflower gardens will be planted there to expand and develop the area more as a focal and gathering point. Another garden will be located in the southbound median overpass of Eight Mile and Woodward. While this garden is by no means a ‘gathering place’, the strategic placement of the gardens at key focal points, is intended to provide a massing affect and strong visual impact throughout the district as a whole.