U-Haul, WSU Department of Urban Studies and Planning proceed with sustainability study in Detroit

Wayne State University's Department of Urban Studies and Planning will analyze the economic and social impacts that U-Haul® corporate sustainability initiatives are having on the New Center neighborhood, and how these impacts interact with larger redevelopment trends in Detroit.

The focus of the study will be on the adaptive reuse of the former Nabisco® factory at 899 W. Baltimore St. in Detroit's Midtown district. The research will be conducted during the next 18 to 24 months.

The agreement constitutes Phase II of a U-Haul commissioned study. Phase I built the context by examining the ingredients and effects of adaptive reuse projects in the U.S. and around the world.

"We are thrilled to be working with the talented researchers at Wayne State University on a project that we believe will prove mutually beneficial to Detroit residents and our team at U-Haul," said Allan Yang, chief sustainability scientist at U-Haul International, Inc. "We will utilize the study to gauge how adaptive reuse and new U-Haul locations benefit neighborhoods economically and can positively influence migration trends in Detroit and southeast Michigan."

Wayne State University's research will be led by Professor Robin Boyle and Associate Professor Rayman Mohamed of the Department of Urban Studies and Planning.

The study will focus on three general areas: understanding the social impact of the New Center location on Midtown, including aspects like crime, walkability, etc.; evaluating the economic impact the New Center location has on surrounding Midtown businesses; and determining the effects of U-Haul on residential mobility in southeast Michigan as it relates to moving from stressed economic conditions to more stable and thriving areas.

"This project will allow us to understand how sustainability can be linked at the building, neighborhood, district and city levels," Mohamed said.

Boyle added: "There is very much an ethnographic study: we will embed ourselves in the neighborhood to understand how change can spread outwards from a single location to influence changes in the larger midtown area."

U-Haul Company of Michigan acquired the vacated 283,000-square-foot NBC facility in 2012 and turned the seven-story building into U-Haul Moving & Storage of New Center. The store held its grand opening in September 2013.

The massive undertaking embodied U-Haul sustainability initiatives by repurposing an existing structure to reduce urban sprawl. Adaptive reuse can be effective for reducing blight in distressed neighborhoods, avoiding the environmental costs of demolition and preserving historic architecture.

Detroit has been and will continue to be a pivotal hub in U-Haul operations as Joe Shoen, Chairman and President of AMERCO, parent company of U-Haul International, noted after the purchase of the New Center location.

"We want to give back to the great city of Detroit by expanding and investing in it," said Shoen.

U-Haul will share findings from the study as they become available at myuhaulstory.com.

About U-Haul

Since 1945, U-Haul has been the No. 1 choice of do-it-yourself movers, with a network of more than 18,000 locations across all 50 states and 10 Canadian provinces. U-Haul customers' patronage has enabled the U-Haul fleet to grow to more than 135,000 trucks, 107,000 trailers and 38,000 towing devices. U-Haul offers more than 491,000 rooms and more than 44 million square feet of self-storage space at owned and managed facilities throughout North America. U-Haul is the largest installer of permanent trailer hitches in the automotive aftermarket industry and is one of the nation's largest propane retailers.

About Wayne State University

Wayne State University is a premier urban research institution offering more than 380 academic programs through 13 schools and colleges to nearly 28,000 students.

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