Brick + Beam Detroit

Building Community Value and Other Resources for Small-Scale Development Projects



Have you heard the word “developer” tossed around? Or big headlines talking about some several-million-dollar investment in a “development” happening downtown? Real estate development, or property development, happens at all scales-- including at the residential neighborhood level. 

Understanding the tools developers use can help you in your own home rehab, and if you’re a rehabber who’s renovated your own home, you might consider doing it again. You may also be interested in how the development in your neighborhood happens, and about the community development orgs and block clubs making it happen so you can get involved.  

Interested in becoming a developer in your neighborhood?

Building Community Value “BCV” is a nonprofit dedicated to implementing and facilitating real estate development projects in underserved Detroit neighborhoods-- especially those led by neighbors themselves. BCV responds to the aspirations of Detroit residents who are most directly impacted by development in their neighborhoods-- one of the ways they do this is by teaching the skills that residents can use to do development themselves:

  • Better Buildings, Better Blocks Small-Scale Real Estate Cohort: This training teaches the nuts and bolts of small-scale real estate development to Detroit, Hamtramck, and Highland Park residents. During the 6-week course, participants learn the basics of identification, acquisition, financing, leasing, and project management for neighborhood-based residential and commercial development projects. This training happens twice a year, in the spring and fall-- the fall application is open now. Apply at this link by August 10!

  • BCV also offers several resource lists

    • Property Information: real estate listings, deed archives & land records, tax status & zoning information, property tax databases, and other parcel data.  

    • Mapping & Data: parcel, district, and data maps, neighborhood retail information, property tax calculators, map-generating tools, and more

    • Financing: loan programs, grant programs for entrepreneurs and property owners, and tax credit programs 

    • Governmental: data, guidance, and information from the city of Detroit, including foreclosure timelines, lead laws, department listings, property tax info, building permit tracking, and the Detroit Land Bank property database. 

    • Professional Consultation: environmental & title insurance consultation 


Want to get involved in community development on your block?

Community Development Advocates of Detroit (“CDAD”) advocates for public policies and resources that advance the work of nonprofit, community-based organizations in Detroit neighborhoods who are engaged in physical development, land use planning, community organizing, and other activities designed to stabilize and revitalize the quality of life in Detroit.

  • Membership: CDAD is made up of a coalition of over 100 members, including community development organizations, neighborhood improvement organizations, community groups, individuals, and other partners. Learn more about membership here, and become a member here. CDAD offers members training and professional development, technical assistance, and members work together on shaping public policy.

  • Resources: 

    • The Strategic Framework Process Guide is a downloadable guide about public exercises to help residents and other community stakeholders envision the future directions of their neighborhood, describe that vision, and achieve it. The process has already been implemented in two Detroit neighborhoods.

    • Find out who is working in your neighborhood with CDAD’s interactive map and directory, d[COM]munity.


Want to increase community voice in advocating for better development?  

Doing Development Differently in Metro Detroit (“D4") D4 is a diverse coalition of residents, labor, environmental, faith-based, and community organizations, committed to using the built environment to create “win-win” scenarios for the community, economy, workers, and the environment. D4 aims to reinvent the development process, which too often unfairly burdens low-income families and people of color. 

  • Campaigns & Advocacy: D4 provides assistance to community groups wishing to improve large scale development projects in their neighborhood by supporting local stakeholders to advocate for community benefits agreements. D4 has supported residents in advocating for their needs near Little Caesars Arena, The New Gordie Howe Bridge, Henry Ford Hospital Systems campus expansion, and around the former Michigan State Fairgrounds. To learn more about the community benefits campaigns they’ve worked on, and how to reach out for assistance visit this link.  

  • Civic Leadership Training: The D4 Civic Leadership Institute (CLI) is a multiple session, interactive program that prepares residents and coalition leaders to engage in community benefit campaigns and advocate for policy reforms that will impact their respective communities. To learn more about The D4 Civic Leadership Institute visit this link.


Want to learn about the future of community development in Detroit?

Building the Engine of Community Development in Detroit is working to build an accountable, coordinated system of community development between Community Development Organizations around the city to ensure that all neighborhoods are supported in advocating for their vision for their future. Check out their “7 System Elements,” their framework for equitable development, and their working citywide definition of “community development” and “neighborhood vitality.” 


Working with a side lot or planning a side lot project with your neighbors?

Check out Detroit Future City’s Field Guide to Working with Lots, complete with a workbook for developing a collaborative vision with neighbors, how-to webinars, and a guide for working with and cultivating different terrains. You can also view their Strategic Framework for a 50-year plan for Detroit based on feedback from over 100,000 Detroiters.


Looking for consultation on a project or a value-driven general contractor?

Mona Lisa Development is a development, consulting, and general contracting firm consciously committed to small scale-development with diverse teams in Detroit neighborhoods. View their work and contact them here!


Other small-scale development training programs:



This resource was added in July 2020. Much of the information is pulled directly from organization websites.

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