2021 All-America City Finalist - Southfield, MI

Southfield is an international city bustling with people from a rich array of cultural, racial, ethnic, and religious backgrounds, including large African American, Armenian, Chaldean, Jewish and Russian populations. As Southfield’s demographics have changed, so too has the city’s approach to reaching and engaging the community. City leaders actively engage residents, through its boards & commissions, public meetings, and town halls, to gather input that is used to help shape policies and programs that reflect the community’s vision. In response to that input, the City of Southfield has increasingly focused on creating more reflective and inclusive community programming in addition to a more walkable downtown area.

Supporting the Black Lives Matter (BLM) Movement

As a community with a majority African American population, Southfield residents and officials have been particularly touched and impacted by the historic and recent acts of police brutality and racial injustice.

In response to the most recent national tragedy of the murder of George Floyd, the city installed new Black Lives Matter and Southfield Strong banners. The banner installation was just one of the city’s responses to the tragedy.


  • Southfield Unity Day – Kneel to Heal, June 14, 2020. At this event attendees formed a symbolic human chain of unity and kneeled for eight minutes and forty-two seconds to honor the life of George Floyd.
  • Black Men Unite Peaceful Protest – June 28, 2020. The march was designed to unite Black men while protesting police brutality and racial injustice. The event also included a voter registration drive and 2020 Census encouragement.
  • Our Sorrow and Determination for a More Equal and Just Society” Joint Resolution. The Southfield City Council & Mayor adopted this joint resolution to show solidarity with efforts to root out systemic racism. The city also continues to support training, policies and practices for police officers that de-escalate tense situations and avoid the use of deadly force.
  • Southfield Police Department Duty to Intervene Policy. A new policy amendment was adopted that requires every sworn employee present at any scene to stop another sworn employee when force is being inappropriately applied or is no longer required.
  • My Brother’s Keeper (MBK). The Southfield Chapter of MBK hosts monthly meetings featuring different guest speakers, in addition to other activities, events and field trips to mentor Southfield’s young men of color.
  • International Peace Poles Installation & Dedication – November 6, 2020. The city held a dedication ceremony for the installation of new International Peace Poles. 

Protecting a Community of Color during the COVID-19 Pandemic
In response to the pandemic, Southfield declared a State of Emergency on March 13, 2020 and immediately activated the Emergency Operations Center (EOC). Since that time, efforts to support the community and keep residents safe have been extensive.

City Operations

  • Public meetings of the city council and city boards and commissions were conducted virtually, with the opportunity for residents to watch online and call-in questions.
  • Safe social distancing floor stickers and safety glass partitions have been installed in all public buildings.
  • All individuals are required to wear facemasks and to self-screen for COVID-19 symptoms before entering any city office or facility.

Business Assistance

  • Allowed restaurants to expand outdoor dining areas.
  • Allowed providers of personal services to operate outside an established business.
  • Reduced fees and expedited approvals.
  • Provided businesses with free ‘Open for Business’ and/or ‘Open for Carryout’ lawn signs.
  • Distributed over 400 free COVID-19 safety tool kits to help small businesses reopen safely.
  • Offering grants for restaurant relief through the Restaurant Technology & PPE Reimbursement Program and the Restaurant Weatherization Program. 

Parks & Recreation Operations

  • Produced virtual fitness classes for children, adults, and seniors.
  • Golf courses, tennis courts and parks remained opened, following CDC guidelines of social distancing.
  • The Transportation of Southfield Seniors program continued providing reservations and transportation for medical appointments and limited grocery trips.

Public Library Operations

  • E-books and magazines, audiobooks, movies, music, children’s resources, and research tools were made available online.
  • Contactless book pickup was available via a drive-up window.

Vaccine Promotion

  • Provided vaccine information on the city’s website, social media platforms and public access channel.
  • Took out full page ads in the local paper.
  • Launched a COVID Vaccine Hotline to assist seniors and other residents without internet access to register for eligible vaccination appointments.

Creating Affordable Housing Options and Sustainability through Adaptive Reuse
The City of Southfield is home to a significant and growing number of both senior adults and low- to moderate-income individuals and families who need safe, clean, and affordable housing options.

Housing Rehabilitation
To provide that level of housing stock and opportunity, Southfield recently invested almost $20 million in two affordable senior housing developments. A tax credit financing and a construction loan was procured to renovate McDonnell Tower Apartments and the tower and townhomes at River Park Place. In addition to the renovations, upgrades to improve energy efficiency are expected to lower residents’ monthly utility costs and reduce the carbon footprint of the buildings.

The project included extensive exterior and interior renovations and energy-efficient upgrades. Additionally, the buildings received community amenity additions, including a new activities center, a café, a game room and an exercise room.

Mixed-Use Redevelopment

In 2015, the City of Southfield purchased the shuttered Northland Center mall, once the largest shopping mall in the world, with plans to remediate, demolish and sell the property to a qualified developer.

Following the purchase of Northland in 2015, the city held several “Imagine the Possibilities” public input meetings with the community to share their ideas and input for the future of the former mall site. The city held strong to that community vision for four years with little developer interest until Contour Companies of Bloomfield Hills came along.

Contour Companies proposed a true dynamic mixed-use redevelopment including apartments at various rental rates, retail and restaurants, office and green space that very closely mirrors the city’s original vision for the Northland redevelopment based upon residents’ collective input.

The purchase agreement with Contour Companies was approved along with a master plan for the 114-acre redevelopment.

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