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Longtime planner Antoine Bryant tapped as Detroit development director


A Brooklyn native with more than 25 years of planning experience has been nominated to serve as the next director of Detroit’s Planning & Development Department.

Mayor Mike Duggan announced Wednesday that he has selected Antoine Bryant to serve in the post following a nationwide search. The Detroit City Council is expected to vote on the nomination Tuesday.

Bryant previously served as business development and project manager for architecture firm Moody Nolan in Houston, where he worked on projects in historic African-American neighborhoods. The city notes that Bryan's career focus has been the development and social empowerment of underserved communities.

"We are incredibly fortunate to have someone of the national reputation that Antoine brings to lead the process of redeveloping our neighborhoods in close collaboration with residents,” Duggan said in a statement Wednesday. “He has a clear commitment to — and a long track record of — deep community engagement and developing a vision and plan that reflects the desires of residents."

If confirmed, Bryant will take over the role from Katy Trudeau, who has been serving as interim director since January. She will return to her role as deputy director of the department. She's been credited for her role in helping to raise more than $50 million for the city's Strategic Neighborhood Fund and creating plans to improve 10 neighborhoods.

Bryant told the News Wednesday that he discussed Detroit for several years during his work in Houston.

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“One of the greatest things that drew me to (Detroit) as a late-40s African American male was the ability to work in planning and community engagement and what I call community empowerment in a city that is the epitome of a Black city,” he said. “Being able to work more proactively and having our residents here in Detroit become a part of the vision that moves forward.”

Bryant said that he plans to be in the neighborhoods every day starting next week.

“I want to get to know people,” he said. “Get to know the lay of the land. Not just from what I’ve read in our reports, not from what I heard on my own, but actually getting to talk to people and also walking and driving the streets so I get to know it.”

Bryant earned a bachelor’s degree in Urban and Regional Studies from Cornell University and a master’s of architecture from the University of Texas.

“The people of Detroit now have an even better team helping to create a better city,” said Donald Rencher, the city's group executive of Planning, Housing & Development. “The fact that Detroit has been able to recruit a leader of Antoine’s talent speaks to the work the Planning & Development Department is doing day in and day out. I am proud of the team that we have put into place and cannot wait to see them execute their vision for the people of this city, a vision of empowerment and equity built on the needs and feedback of our residents.”

Also Wednesday, Duggan nominated Julie Schneider, acting director of the Housing & Revitalization Department, to assume that position full time. Schneider, who had been the department's deputy director, has been acting director since January, when Donald Rencher was promoted to group executive of Planning, Housing & Development.

“Julie has saved and created thousands of affordable housing units in neighborhoods across the city, helping to make Detroit a place for everyone, both those who are new to our city but more importantly, for those who have stayed,” Duggan said.

cwilliams@detroitnews.com

Twitter: @CWilliams_DN