Philanthropic Leaders: Greater Impact on Detroit’s Revitalization Dependent on Business Partnerships

Watch the full panel here. 

The philanthropic community’s contributions – from housing sustainability programs to youth education – was a critical step in Detroit’s post-bankruptcy revitalization. In the discussion, “Detroit’s Resurgence: Philanthropy’s Leading Role,” panelists highlighted how their respective organizations stimulated development throughout the city through projects, initiatives and programs while emphasizing the need for more collaboration with businesses.

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“The foundation community, as well as the corporate community is slowly growing in the understanding that if we work together more, there are great things we can accomplish,” explained Faye Nelson, vice president of DTE Energy and board chair and president of DTE Energy Foundation.

Key takeaways include:

  • The community has needs that the public sector and government cannot address. Individually, philanthropic organizations cannot fill this void.
  • As paradigms shift in Detroit post-bankruptcy, foundations and philanthropic organizations have stepped in to invest in projects that the state and federal government historically funded.
  • Moving forward, for foundations and business it is no longer about investing in as many projects as possible, as much as it is about funding projects that best serve the community.

This session was moderated by Nolan Finley, editorial page editor for The Detroit News. Panelists also included: David Egner, president and CEO of the Ralph C. Wilson Jr. Foundation; Katy Locker, Detroit program director at the Knight Foundation; and Chris Uhl, vice president of community investments for Rock Ventures. The session was sponsored by DTE Energy Foundation.

Read more from the 2017 Detroit Policy Conference:

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Gilbert seeks ideas for developing Hudson’s site in Detroit

From the Detroit Free Press

February 28, 2013

By JC Reindl, 

Quicken Loans founder Dan Gilbert is planning an international design competition to solicit ideas for redeveloping the site of the former Hudson’s department store in downtown Detroit.

Matt Cullen, president of Rock Ventures, the real estate arm of Gilbert’s business interests, revealed the plan this morning during a presentation on current and future “Live, Work, and Play” vision for the city at the Detroit Policy Conference in the MotorCity Casino-Hotel.

More details will come in several weeks when the contest is formally announced, Cullen said.

A new building with ground floor retail and residential units on higher floors is one possibility, Cullen said, noting the nearly 100% occupancy rate for recent residential developments in downtown.

The 25-story Hudson’s building at 1206 Woodward took up an entire city block and was once the second-largest department store in the world. “It is an iconic site,” Cullen said.

The store closed in 1983 and, on Oct. 24, 1998, the building was explosively imploded before a gathering of about 50,000 spectators.

There is currently a parking structure underneath the site. The property is controlled by the city of Detroit, and Gilbert’s Rock Ventures received a time extension on Wednesday from the state’s Michigan Strategic Fund to come up with development plans for a renaissance zone there with multiple tax breaks.

Gilbert is willing to spend up to $75 million.

“We’re reaching the point where new construction will make a lot of sense for residential because there is such demand,” Cullen said.

Cullen also said that Quicken Loans and Rock Ventures expects to hire 2,000 workers during the next 12 to 18 months and hopes to bring 1,000 young interns to Detroit this summer.

Urban theorist Richard Florida, author of the influential “Rise of the Creative Class,” gave a conference presentation on the economic benefits to harnessing the potential of the many knowledge workers living in the metro Detroit.