Detroit got some national love in the past week -- and not just just in the media. Living Cities
, a collaborative of 22 of the world's largest
foundations and financial institutions, has selected Detroit as one of five cities for its new Integration Initiative and Mayor Dave Bing has been named as a 2010-2011 fellow for the Urban Land Institute
(ULI) Daniel Rose Center for Public Leadership in Land Use
Let's begin with the money. The Integration Initiative will provide $2.75 million dollars in grants, $4 million in investments and $15 million in loans to support the Woodward Corridor. The project has four goals: to create a new framework for solving complex problems such as unemployment and vacant land; to challenge obsolete conventional wisdom based on outdated assumptions; to drive private markets to work on behalf of low-income and under-served people; and ultimately, create a "new normal" in which systems and practices work more effectively on behalf of urban residents.
The program works across traditional boundaries with involvement from the philanthropic, non-profit and business communities. It's all the heavy hitters at the table -- a partial list of Living Cities members include Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, Ford Foundation, John S. and James L. Knight Foundation, Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, The Annie E. Casey Foundation, the John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation, the McKnight Foundation, the Rockefeller Foundation, W.K. Kellogg Foundation, Bank of America, Deutsche Bank, JP Morgan Chase and Morgan Stanley.
Yeah, that's some big bats.
The commercial loans can be used for acquisition of land and property, construction and preservation of affordable housing and development of mixed-use facilities. The funds also will provide working capital and real estate loans to businesses. "These funds will induce private investment and find ways to leverage additional private sector money," says Robin Boyle, chair of Wayne State University's Department of Urban Studies and Planning.
Money will also finance charter schools; create a community land trust; pay for a business development strategy that promotes "live local, buy local and hire local;" facilitate land-use planning and the streamlining of small-business services at the City of Detroit; and, via Data Driven Detroit
, create a database of demographic information that can be easily accessed by the public. The University Cultural Center Association
will coordinate the money with the Kresge Foundation and the Skillman Foundation.
This operational support is critical, says Boyle, who notes that this type of funding is often difficult for organizations and municipalities to obtain. "It's important for the city and important for Midtown," he says Boyle. "This is about hiring the people and setting up the systems necessary to get the Midtown area up and running and moving ahead."
The other four cities participating are Baltimore, Cleveland, Newark and the Twin Cities region of Minneapolis and St. Paul.
In complimentary news, Mayor Bing has been selected as one of four American mayors selected for a Daniel Rose Fellowship. The year-long program has a core curriculum of real estate market economics and creative public finance tools. The mayors' home turfs benefit from technical assistance provided by urban development and design leaders on a local land-use challenge.
Each mayor brings a team along for the Rose ride; Bing's includes Karla Henderson, group executive for Planning and Facilities for the City of Detroit, Marja Winters, deputy director of Planning and Development for the City of Detroit and Olga Stella, vice president of business development for the Detroit Economic Growth Corporation.
Stella says that the timing of the fellowship is perfect. "This is a real opportunity to get national real estate development experts into Detroit at a time that it is really pivotal," she says, hoping the end result is "some realistic short-term commercial revitalization opportunities while the city has embarked on this historic Detroit Works initiative."
Charlotte, Houston and Sacramento are the other three cities whose mayors and teams will be participating in the fellowship.
Sources: Robin Boyle, WSU and Olga Stella, DEGC
Writer: Kelli B. Kavanaugh