U-M’s Detroit Center for Innovation coming to The District Detroit

Groundbreaking set for 2023

Rendering for Detroit Center of Innovation from University of Michigan. (WDIV)

DETROIT, Mich. – The University of Michigan, Related Companies and Olympia Development of Michigan announced on Monday plans to build the Detroit Center for Innovation in The District Detroit.

Initial plans to develop the site at the old Wayne County Jail site fell through in July.

The District Detroit is located in the heart of the city and is a premier destination for entertainment and sports, and features a wide range of properties including retail, residential, educational and office space.

The new location of the DCI campus will feature three buildings set on four acres between Cass and Grand River and between Elizabeth Street on the south and W. Columbia Street on the north.

Developers plan to break ground on the project in 2023.

The University of Michigan will operate the estimated $250 million research and education center. There are plans in place for a tech incubator to join the 200,000-square-foot facility, which will be located in the to-be restored Loyal Order of the Moose Lodge building at 2115 Cass Ave.

The third building on DCI’s campus will be a brand-new 300-unit residential building along Cass Ave. Land for the project was contributed by the Ilitch organization.

The new campus, seeded by a $100 million donation from Chairman of Related Companies Stephen Ross, will bring job opportunities and economic growth to the city, according to the project’s planners.

“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,” Ross said in a statement. “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.

“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.”

President and CEO of Ilitch Holdings, Inc., Christopher Ilitch, echoed Ross’ comments.

“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,” Ilitch said in a statement. “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.”

Related and Olympia Development also announced on Monday that other development opportunities in The District Detroit are being explored to further amplify DCI’s positive impact on the area, and plan to share more information in the coming months.

According to a news release, ODM and Related plan to prioritize market-rate, affordable housing, the preservation of historic buildings, sustainable green spaces, retail, commercial office and restaurants.

The Center for Innovation has a location.

A number of public figures have expressed their support for the initiative, including Michigan Gov. Gretchen Whitmer, who praised the DCI’s potential to advance economic growth.

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

ServiceNow, a digital workflow company, has already committed to expanding its employee base at the DCI and creating a new innovation hub on the campus.

Detroit Mayor Michael Duggan said the new project will revitalize the area.

“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,” Duggan said in a statement. “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.”

Superintendent of the Detroit Public Schools Community District, Nikolai Vitt, said the existence of DCI will help close the “opportunity gap” facing DPSCD students.

“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,” Vitti said in a statement. “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.”

University of Michigan President Mark Schlissel said the DCI is a representation of the university’s enduring commitment to the city of Detroit.

“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,” Schlissel said in a statement. “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.”

U-M was founded in Detroit in 1817. The new academic center will help U-M expand its footprint in the city by joining other existing locations and programs, including the U-M Detroit Center on Woodward Ave., the P-20 collaboration with DPSCD at Marygrove College, its nearby UM-Dearborn campus, the Detroit Community-Academic Urban Research Center and the Partnership on Economic Mobility.

U-M Board of Regents Chair Jordan Acker expressed the board’s support for the new research center.

“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 in a statement. “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.”

The academic center will be used by U-M students in their final year of undergraduate studies and degrees and certificates will continued to be issued via the Ann Arbor campus.

The academic center will also feature research and development, incubators, co-working space, a collaboration space for major companies and startup support services.

About the Author:

Meredith has worked for WDIV since August 2017 and was voted one of Washtenaw County's best journalists in 2019 by eCurrent's readers. She covers the community of Ann Arbor and has a Master's degree in International Broadcast Journalism from City University London, UK.