Henry Ford Health System takes holistic, multifaceted approach to neighborhood investment

From a state-of-the-art cancer center to an arts-centric community space, Henry Ford Health System is taking a varied approach to investment in its home neighborhood of Northwest Goldberg, all with a focus on health and opportunity.

Henry Ford’s latest projects are a part of other Detroit institutions’ recent investment in the community. While the Motown Museum recently celebrated the groundbreaking of their $50 million museum expansion of their historic headquarters on West Grand Boulevard, Henry Ford and the Detroit Pistons celebrated the opening of the Henry Ford Detroit Pistons Performance Center, which includes Henry Ford’s $37 million William Clay Ford Center for Athletic Medicine and the Pistons $90 million new headquarters and practice facility. The two buildings are connected by a glass walkway in the New Center district.

Back in the neighborhood, Henry Ford has several more developments either having recently opened or well on their way. Three of them — a cancer center, a laundry facility, and a community center — typify the multifaceted approach HFHS is taking in investing in their neighborhood.

'The future of innovation'

On West Grand Boulevard across from Henry Ford Hospital, the Brigitte Harris Cancer Pavilion rises. Once completed, the new home of the Henry Ford Cancer Institute will allow the hospital to gather all of its different cancer treatment teams, researchers, surgeons, and all the members of the cancer team, and place them all in one building — one very high-tech building.

The Cancer Pavilion is designed to ease the strain of cancer treatment as much as possible. Two floors of the parking garage feature a walkway to the building.

Inside will be the latest state-of-the-art equipment alongside departments that include everything from clinical trials and outpatient cancer treatment to art therapy and yoga.

“The future of cancer treatment is a very targeted treatment. Every patient needs a tailored experience and we needed a building that can usher in that new kind of treatment,” says Dr. Steven Kalkanis, chair of the Department of Neurosurgery at Henry Ford Health System and medical director of the Cancer Institute.

“Cancer treatment is no longer one-size-fits-all.”

At six floors and 187,000 square feet of space, the Cancer Pavilion will serve as a beacon for Henry Ford. Set close to the street, the building adds a presence to the Grand Boulevard street wall. Its design is meant to evoke the original hospital building across the street, yet, clad in glass and steel, the building is assuredly modern. The large glass windows will offer great views of downtown Detroit, Kalkanis says. A pocket park and outdoor patio invite the community to the complex.

At an approximate cost of $155 million, the Brigitte Harris Cancer Pavilion is expected to open in 2020.

The Cancer Pavilion will serve as an anchor for Henry Ford’s south campus, the investment area for future growth between Holden Street and West Grand Boulevard. The south campus is a catalyst for investment leading to broader revitalization across Northwest Goldberg. In various instances, Henry Ford is leading or partnering on initiatives aimed at everything from job creation to new housing and retail destinations.

“This enterprise is the first step into the future of innovation in the neighborhood. The pavilion serves as the main connection to the south campus. We’ll be looking at adding ambulatory centers, retail, residential,” Kalkanis says.

“This really is the centerpiece of the exciting things that are happening.”

A unique partnership

Another Henry Ford development stands to enhance the landscape of Northwest Goldberg in 2020.

Tucked away in a corner of railroad tracks and the John C. Lodge Service Drive is the old Caraco Pharmaceutical Labs building, vacant for the better part of the last decade. But work is underway to transform the building into a $48 million modern medical laundry facility. A 55,000-square-foot expansion has been built, doubling the facility in size.

The development is a unique partnership between Henry Ford, Michigan Medicine, and Saint Joseph Mercy Health System and will serve as a shared facility for all three.

Scheduled to open in June 2020, the laundry facility will employ 180 workers, 100 of which will be new hires. Though they’re just now beginning to talk human resources, Henry Ford and its partners are committed to working with community groups and workforce agencies to tap into the talent present within the surrounding neighborhoods, and develop training and support programs that will present opportunities for advancement.

Jim O’Connor, vice president of Supply Chain Management for Henry Ford, says the laundry facility and the Cardinal Health distribution center, which was developed on vacant property and opened in the neighborhood in 2015, can inform future job growth in Detroit.

“There is a lot of opportunity in the city to create a significant workforce in distribution and light manufacturing,” O’Connor says.

“This is not just about laundry. It’s about creating an economic engine for families.”


ArtBlock serves as an arts-centric community center for the neighborhood.

While cancer treatment and clean bed sheets are integral to quality health care, another Henry Ford development is taking a more holistic approach.

The ArtBlock community arts building opened in May 2019. ArtBlock serves as an arts-centric community center for the neighborhood. The meeting space is open to those who request it, and has already hosted a wide range of groups, including a women’s recovery meditation group, Midtown Detroit Inc., and Henry Ford-led community health meetings.

Henry Ford wants groups to use the space as it suits their needs, says Michele Harrison-Sears, senior director for foundation relations at Henry Ford, and to be able to modify it depending on those needs. There are yoga mats, a fridge and microwave, Wi-Fi, and flexible tables and chairs to host up to 85 people. A small office for an old party store tenant is a favorite spot for DJs, she says.

Though the space is still evolving, the idea is to provide a space for the community to gather in an inspiring environment. ArtBlock is adorned, both inside and out, with artworks from 14 local Detroit artists.

“We believe that health also happens outside of the hospital walls,” Harrison-Sears says.

“When you’re in a space that looks nice and makes you happy and has positive vibes, your outlook is better and then your health is better.”

Read more articles by MJ Galbraith.

MJ Galbraith is Model D's development news editor. Follow him on Twitter @mikegalbraith.