DetroitIsIt 2

Polishing Up Detroit’s Hidden Neighborhood Gem

Detroit’s Livernois and Six Mile Area is Transforming In Front of Our Eyes


The Livernois and West McNichols area in Detroit has endured many transitions and challenging times. But with incredible dedication, optimism, and collaboration, the businesses and residents have been rolling up their sleeves and working hard to bring this close-knit community back.

So has the Live6 Alliance. The Alliance – formed in 2015 – is a place-based community development organization that focuses on commercial real estate development, programming, beautification, community safety, and more.

The community is home to the University of Detroit Mercy, Marygrove Conservancy, a new early childhood development center, a Detroit public school and the University of Michigan will have a presence beginning in the Fall. These beacons, plus many restaurants, businesses, and studios new and old make up the historic area.

“There is so much happening on West McNichols,” said Caitlin Murphy, Executive Director of the Live6 Alliance.

Properties are being fully rehabbed, there is new construction and many new businesses are coming in, combined, these things are catalyzing and strengthening the corridor.

Screen Shot 2024 04 29 at 8.38.03 AM


One important anchor of the community is Art in Motion – a ceramics studio gallery owned by M. Kay Willingham. A lifetime resident of the area, Willingham is one of the original pioneers thirteen years ago to ‘Light up Livernois’ with help from a Detroit Economic Growth Revolve Program grant.

About the area, she says, “It is a place in transition. I grew up in this neighborhood and have seen a lot, from the riots to white flight. I was here when it was the hair capital of the world. I’ve been here through it all and it’s good to see it coming back.”

Screen Shot 2024 04 29 at 8.25.44 AM


Sevyn Jones, owner of Skin Bar VII is also a lifer here. She opened her business in 2019, shut down during COVID, came back, and is putting in the work toward success.

“I remember taking piano lessons on Livernois and walking up and down the avenue with my mom and grandparents,” she says. “It looks totally different now and I’m happy to be part of the changes.”

About the challenges that come with this area, she says, “Many people aren’t aware of all the treasures here. There are hidden pockets that people should come and walk and explore. There are new entrepreneurs coming in and new shops and restaurants and it’s changing with the times, which is a good thing.”

Screen Shot 2024 04 29 at 8.36.16 AM


One of those new restaurants is the Detroit Pizza Bar, which opened in April of 2022. Co-Owner Akuuna Olumba chose the area for her business because of the stability of the neighborhood. “With the University of Detroit Mercy, the University of Michigan coming in and the long-time residents it felt right for a sit-down restaurant,” she said.

Olumba also says that active community organizations are a big plus. “Live 6 is 100% committed to the area and we’ve been working to drive people into the area.”

Screen Shot 2024 04 29 at 8.31.51 AM


Another business that’s established yet fairly new to the area is ArtLab J. Founded in 2012 by Artistic Director Joori Jung, ArtLab J is a 501C(3) that hosts programming around dance and education. It’s moved from Midtown to Eastern Market to Marygrove College and settled into its address on Livernois in 2020. When asked why the business relocated to the area, Jung says, “There seems to be opportunity here. When we moved in, there were many empty stores and I was looking forward to building a community and neighbors.”

Fast forward to today, and Jung says, “There is a positive energy happening here. The business owners really take care of the area and we work hard together to make it more welcoming. I wish there were more people walking around but we are working on that.”

Jung is certainly doing her part. She and her team built a kid’s community garden last year, and she hosts community events every Friday to bring the businesses and residents together.

Screen Shot 2024 04 29 at 8.42.00 AM


Robyn Childers says it’s an area that embraces and welcomes small businesses. She’s had first-hand experience with this, as her business Welcome Home Yoga & Wellness, just opened two years ago.

About why she and her partner chose the area for the studio, she says, “We wanted to serve a community – a real neighborhood – and be part of the revitalization happening here.”

When asked to describe the community in a few simple adjectives, the business owners use words like diverse, active, proud, emerging, welcoming, inclusive, growing, changing, and even mysterious.

The Live6 Alliance is working on a place-making initiative with new signage, banners and way-finding that will lead to a marketing campaign for the area. They have also forged a Clean and Safe Program, part of which is clean up and trash removal every month.

“People can expect to see several new businesses coming to the area in the next twelve to 24 months,” said Murphy.


As always, be sure to subscribe to our newsletter for regular updates on all things Detroit.

Notify of
Inline Feedbacks
View all comments