U-M outlines new commitments to Detroit
The University of Michigan has unveiled a series of new commitments to the city of Detroit including details of the university’s role in leading the design and construction of the renamed University of Michigan Center for Innovation.
The UMCI will be built by the university to accommodate the academic and community programs that it will house. Those programs are now expanded to include three distinct types of activity—graduate education, talent-based community development and community engagement—all in the service of economic development and job growth for Detroit, said U-M President Santa J. Ono.
The UMCI is expected to break ground this year and take three years to build. It’s funded with a $100 million donation from Stephen Ross and $100 million from the state of Michigan. An additional $50 million will be raised from donors and Olympia Development is donating the four-acre property to U-M.
“Our founding as a university traces back to Detroit, so it’s fitting that we reinvigorate and build on our commitment to the city through this center,” Ono said. “UMCI is essential for our future. We are searching for a new director who will be a critical voice within the community, as well as an essential liaison with our many stakeholders in Detroit.”
“The potential for the UMCI to be a catalyst for the future of Detroit is exponential and we are excited that President Ono and his team at U-M are leading the charge on this project,” said Ross, founder and chairman of Related Companies. “We’re particularly excited for the impact the UMCI and its programs will have on the next generation of Detroit students who will have this world-class academic institution at their doorstep.”
The university will handle construction of the $250 million, 200,000-square-foot building planned for the site bounded by Cass and Grand River avenues and West Columbia and Elizabeth streets, pending approval by the U-M Board of Regents. By taking on the construction of the UMCI, the university will be able to build out the new facility to fit its specifications, needs, and academic and community programming, said Geoffrey Chatas, U-M executive vice president and chief financial officer.
The Downtown Detroit Partnership will continue to act as a fiduciary for the state funding and administer those funds through a nonprofit subsidiary.
“DDP’s collective voice of public, private and philanthropic leaders across the city of Detroit applaud this amazing commitment by the University of Michigan, Stephen Ross and Olympia Development,” said Eric Larson, CEO of DDP. “We’re pleased to be the fiduciary for this dynamic and multifaceted project that will result in enormous impact for the city and region.”
UMCI will benefit from being near the proposed $1.5 billion,10-building mixed-use development Related Companies and Olympia Development have joined forces to develop in The District Detroit near the Fox Theatre and professional sports stadiums.
Ono has made the UMCI one of his top priorities. The center, along with the P-20 Partnership at the School at Marygrove, the $40 million Rackham building renovation, the U-M Detroit Center, which opened in 2005 in Midtown, and hundreds of other projects U-M works on with community partners around the city, are examples of how the university has stepped up its community engagement in the city in recent years.
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