The District Detroit is gaining a big new tenant.
Stephen Ross and Olympia Development announced today that the $250 million Detroit Center for Innovation (DCI) will be built on surface parking lots along Grand River, behind the Fox Theater in downtown Detroit. Construction is expected to start in 2023.
The four-acre area is bordered by Cass, Grand River, W. Columbia Street, and Elizabeth Street.
In addition to the new build, a technology incubator will be housed in a soon-to-be-restored Loyal Order of the Moose Lodge Building on Cass. Another new build on Cass will have 300 apartments. Green space is expected to tie the campus together.
Stephen Ross is donating $100 million as seed money for the Detroit Center for Innovation. The Ilitch organization is contributing the land.
Ross's Related Companies, a global real estate and lifestyle company, announced with Olympia that they are seeking additional development opportunities within the District Detroit, "that will amplify the positive impact of the DCI, which will center around a purpose-driven enterprise committed to working closely with local Detroit minority- and women-owned businesses in its development efforts." They state that their priorities include job creation, accelerating community-minded priority developments, preservation and adaptive reuse of existing historic buildings, creating affordable and market-rate housing, sustainable green spaces, and commercial office, retail, and restaurants.
“As a native Detroiter, I believe it is critical for the DCI to have a catalytic economic and social impact on the people of Detroit. That impact will be best achieved in The District Detroit where it will connect with existing density and ignite additional development, especially with technology leaders like ServiceNow driving job creation, attracting entrepreneurs, and inspiring the next generation of trailblazing talent,” said Stephen Ross, Chairman of Related Companies. “I have tremendous respect for Christopher Ilitch and Olympia Development’s longstanding commitment to Detroit and am thrilled to partner with them to contribute to the vision of The District Detroit for the betterment of our entire community.”
In addition to the DCI, Service Now, a digital workflow company, will expand its workforce and build a talent pipeline in Detroit through its partnership with DCI.
The DCI marks a major expansion of the University of Michigan into Detroit. The Center will focus on research and provide classes in late undergrad and graduate courses, with degrees awarded through the Ann Arbor campus. The Center will also be a place of collaboration with businesses.
“We are enthusiastic about what the Detroit Center for Innovation will mean for the city, its residents and businesses and our current and future students,” says University of Michigan president Mark Schlissel. “The University of Michigan is already setting the groundwork for this new academic center, and we look forward to providing the kind of advanced educational programs that will meet the needs of an evolving workforce and move our economy forward.”
UofM recently announced their intent to renovate Midtown's Rackham Building.
The Innovation Center was originally planned for the former fail jail site in a partnership with Dan Gilbert's Bedrock. Ross announced earlier this year his intent to change the location, stating, "I am more committed than ever to deliver my vision of an innovation hub in my hometown, and I reaffirm my commitment to the people of Detroit and the University of Michigan to create inclusive growth that propels job creation, affordable housing development and historic preservation for all Detroiters. We’re planning to move the DCI to a new location in the city with more space to ensure that we deliver.”
Olympia Development has routinely been criticized for not following through on their plans for the District Detroit. Much of the land they own has been turned into surface parking lots around the arena and behind the Fox Theater. Since completing the Little Caesars Arena in 2017, the group has finished a few properties: the Mike Ilitch School of Business, an office building next door, and the soon-to-be completed Eddystone and Women's Club Buildings.