Detroit Center for Innovation to be built in The District Detroit

Source: Michigan News

Related Companies, Olympia Development of Michigan and the University of Michigan have announced that the Detroit Center for Innovation will be built in The District Detroit, a premier sports and entertainment destination featuring residential, retail, educational and office space in the heart of the city.

This artist’s rendering shows the Detroit Center for Innovation, which will now be built in The District Detroit. (Image courtesy of Kohn Pedersen Fox Associates)

The new location of the DCI ensures that it will have the maximum positive economic and social impact on the people of Detroit, while propelling city-, region- and statewide job creation and inclusive economic growth.

The three-building DCI campus is to be built on what is currently an approximately four-acre, development-ready surface parking area between Cass and Grand River and between W. Columbia Street on the north and Elizabeth Street on the south. It will be anchored by an estimated $250 million, 200,000-square-foot world-class research and education center to be operated by U-M. The research and education center is expected to be accompanied by a technology incubator in the to-be restored and expanded former Loyal Order of the Moose Lodge building located at 2115 Cass Ave. A third building will be new construction and create nearly 300 units of housing along Cass Avenue. The DCI campus will also include green space.

“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.”

The DCI research and education center is seeded by a $100 million donation by Ross and the contribution of land by the Ilitch organization. Groundbreaking is expected to begin in 2023.

“The Detroit Center for Innovation will increase access to opportunity for Detroiters, help nurture and retain talent, and drive positive social and economic impacts throughout the city, region and state,” said Christopher Ilitch, president and CEO of Ilitch Holdings Inc. “We look forward to working with Stephen Ross and Related Companies—leaders in creating visionary neighborhoods, in developing affordable housing and in creating unique places across the country—along with the University of Michigan to support the growth of the DCI.”

Olympia Development and Related also announced that they are exploring additional development opportunities in 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. ODM and Related will engage stakeholders across the city in discussions around potential future development. More information will be shared in the coming weeks and months. Related and ODM are expected to focus on job creation and accelerating community-minded priority developments, including preservation and adaptive reuse of existing historic buildings, affordable and market-rate housing, sustainable green spaces and commercial office, retail and restaurants.

ServiceNow, a leading digital workflow company, recognizes Detroit and the DCI as ideal locations for its workforce growth and talent needs. ServiceNow plans to expand its current employee base there, as well as build a skilled technology talent pipeline for the future. The company, whose Now Platform is used by approximately 80% of the Fortune 500, has also committed to creating partnerships and other talent-related opportunities with universities such as Wayne State and the U-M Engineering Career Resource Center, as well as with organizations such as the Boys & Girls Club, in the Detroit area.

“ServiceNow is deeply inspired to partner with Stephen Ross and the Detroit Center for Innovation,” said Bill McDermott, president and CEO of ServiceNow. “The amazing talent we need for our company is here in Detroit. We will build a team here, invest in this community and establish a new innovation hub at the forefront of digital transformation.”

Michigan Gov. Gretchen Whitmer noted that the DCI and surrounding development would help Michigan address some of its most pressing challenges and opportunities.

“Michigan is the home of opportunity, and the DCI will provide more access to economic growth for Detroiters and residents across our state. This unique community-driven development will catalyze entrepreneurship, attract new businesses to Michigan and grow our state’s world-class workforce,” Whitmer said.

“The community-centered development vision for the Detroit Center for Innovation is an essential component of closing Detroit’s equity gap and creating economic opportunities for all Detroiters,” said Bishop Edgar Vann, founder of the Detroit Equity Report. “A collaboration of this magnitude, bringing together preeminent business leaders and educational institutions, offers a critical model for community-building and I look forward to partnering with them as the DCI comes to life.”

Detroit Mayor Michael Duggan has expressed his support.

Detroit Mayor Mike Duggan.

“This new location and partnership will be the key to revitalizing the Grand River corridor between Cass Tech and downtown, and tying it together with progress being made in the District Detroit,” he said. “To have already landed an anchor tenant like ServiceNow on this new campus is a sign of the enormous potential here for new business and residential growth and opportunity for the brilliant young minds in our city.”

Nikolai Vitti, superintendent of the Detroit Public Schools Community District, also voiced support for the DCI.

“We are optimistic that DPSCD students will have an opportunity to access this opportunity as we know that Detroit does not have a talent gap but an opportunity gap,” he said. “The opportunity is realized when students from the school district are invested in because this creates the potential for at scale, not isolated, long-term impact.”

With the addition of the Detroit Center for Innovation, The District Detroit—already home to Wayne State University’s Mike Ilitch School of Business—will further become a centerpiece for education, innovation, entrepreneurship, sustainable development and the retention and growth of talent. Wayne State and U-M are expected to explore programmatic partnerships through the DCI.

University of Michigan to operate state-of-the-art research and academic center

The DCI marks a new chapter in U-M’s long-standing commitment to Detroit and will enhance the university’s ability to drive innovation across a variety of fields in which advanced technology is increasingly critical.

The DCI is unique in that it will provide a space for the university to engage with industry, nonprofit and community partners to develop the most relevant academic programs and identify research opportunities of mutual interest and benefit, he said.

The new academic center in The District Detroit is part of the university’s growing footprint in and around Detroit, where the university was founded in 1817. The university’s local presence includes its nearby UM-Dearborn campus, a “cradle to career” P-20 collaboration with the Detroit Public Schools Community District at Marygrove College in Northwest Detroit, and the U-M Detroit Center on Woodward Avenue.

Currently, the university’s Detroit-based programs and functions include several initiatives designed to serve the city of Detroit and its residents through education, research and service. They include a dedicated undergraduate admissions office, the Detroit Community-Academic Urban Research Center and the Partnership on Economic Mobility, a joint effort between U-M’s Poverty Solutions initiative and the city to identify and implement concrete, evidence-based strategies that improve economic opportunity and reduce poverty in Detroit.

U-M Board of Regents Chair Jordan Acker, in noting the board’s support for the project, hailed the announcement as a win for both the university and the city.

“Our students will have the opportunity to gain the unique skills, knowledge and experience needed to lead the tech-driven economy of the future,” Acker said. “And Detroit, as well as the wider region, will soon be able to tap into a new talent pipeline tailored to meet the needs of the local economy.”

While the university will provide instruction at the DCI’s academic center, degrees and certificates will be awarded through the Ann Arbor campus. The academic center is designed to serve U-M students in the last year of their undergraduate program, as well as students seeking graduate degrees or certificates that indicate completion of specified programs to learn the tech and other skills needed to advance their careers.

When opened, the DCI will provide Michigan businesses and communities a pipeline of talent and offer opportunities for current workers to further their skills in a world of fast-paced technological change. It will also build on Detroit’s growing presence as a center for innovation, which now includes Ford’s new Corktown mobility innovation campus, TechTown Detroit and Wayne State University.

The academic center will be designed with faculty input and give faculty and students the opportunity to engage in interesting, innovative research across fields where advanced technology is important. Business incubators, research and development and collaboration space for large established companies, co-working space and startup support services will also be available, bringing top minds from the private sector together with the public and academic sectors.

The collaborative approach will encourage business growth in Detroit as students graduate and start their own businesses in the area, with continued support from the DCI.

About the University of Michigan

One of the nation’s top public universities, the University of Michigan has been a leader in research, learning and teaching for more than 200 years. U-M’s alumni body is one of the largest in the world and includes a U.S. president, scientists, actors, astronauts, business leaders and inventors. The university, which also boasts a world-renowned intercollegiate athletics program, has been the site of many important events in U.S. history, including JFK’s announcement of the Peace Corps, LBJ’s “Great Society” speech, and the clinical trials of the Salk polio vaccine. The main campus in Ann Arbor comprises 19 schools and colleges; there are also regional campuses in Dearborn and Flint, and a nationally ranked health system, Michigan Medicine. In 2017, U-M celebrated its bicentennial, marking 200 years since its founding in the city of Detroit.

About Related Companies

Related Companies is a global real estate and lifestyle company defined by innovation and the most prominent privately owned real estate firm in the United States with over $60 billion in assets owned or under development including the 28-acre Hudson Yards neighborhood on Manhattan’s West Side, The Grand and Related Santa Clara in California, and The 78 in Chicago. Formed over 45 years ago, Related is one of the largest private owners of affordable housing and a fully integrated, highly diversified industry leader with experience in virtually every aspect of design, development, acquisitions, management, finance, hospitality, sustainability and sales. Related’s mixed-use, residential and commercial office properties have been consistently heralded for their placemaking vision—bringing together iconic design, arts and culture, dynamic programming and innovative wellness programs. Headquartered in New York City, Related has offices and major developments in Boston, Chicago, Los Angeles, San Francisco, South Florida, Washington, D.C., Abu Dhabi and London, and boasts a team of approximately 4,000 professionals. Related was recently named to Fast Company magazine’s list of the 50 Most Innovative Companies in the World. For more information about Related, visit

About Olympia Development

Olympia Development of Michigan, an Ilitch company, is a real estate development firm dedicated to improving the lives of people who live, work and play in Detroit and beyond. Through catalytic developments, innovative design and construction, and inclusive placemaking, Olympia Development continues to create jobs, increase tax base and grow businesses in Detroit while steadily creating one of the world’s most dynamic sports and entertainment destinations, The District Detroit. The District Detroit unites world-class theaters, four professional sports teams and three multi-use sports facilities, including Comerica Park—home of the Detroit Tigers—and the state-of-the-art, award-winning Little Caesars Arena—home of the Detroit Red Wings, the Detroit Pistons and world-class entertainment and community events. The District Detroit also includes retail, residential, educational and commercial office developments, such as the Mike Ilitch School of Business at Wayne State University, the Detroit Center for Innovation and the Little Caesars World Headquarters. Olympia Development’s restoration of Detroit’s historic icons, such as the Eddystone residences, is bringing much needed market-rate and affordable housing to the core of the city. The past and future economic impact of The District Detroit to the region and the state of Michigan is estimated to exceed $4 billion, driving job creation and entrepreneurship for the betterment of the greater community.

About The District Detroit

The District Detroit is a premier sports and entertainment destination unlike any other in the country. This one-stop shop for dining, sports and live entertainment offers event goers, residents and visitors a dynamic environment to live, work and play. The area features three major, multi-use venues and all four of the city’s largest professional sports teams within walking distance of one another. Venues include the award-winning Little Caesars Arena, home of the Detroit Red Wings, Detroit Pistons and world-class entertainment; Comerica Park, home of the Detroit Tigers; and the Detroit Lions’ Ford Field. The Fox Theatre, Detroit’s crown jewel, continues to be one of the most iconic theaters and music venues in the world. Columbia Street—located in the heart of The District Detroit—is a growing community gathering place that features vibrant new dining and retail concepts and hosts dozens of events each year, including art walks, workouts, live music, holiday celebrations and much more. The District Detroit is an ideal landing spot for guests to connect and celebrate before, during or after an event, and offers something for everyone.

About ServiceNow

ServiceNow (NYSE: NOW) is making the world of work, work better for people. Its cloud-based platform and solutions deliver digital workflows that create great experiences and unlock productivity for employees and the enterprise. For more information, visit:


Back to News + Stories