Kresge, Kellogg foundations pledge $3M for Detroit redevelopment strategies

Posted on January 9, 2013

The Kresge Foundation and W.K. Kellogg Foundation together have pledged $3 million to help the city of Detroit carry out a strategic framework for redevelopment, unveiled today, and Kresge will align $150 million of its own budget over five years to meet some of the goals of that project.

The combined donation from Troy-based Kresge and Battle Creek-based Kellogg will fund two years of operations for a new program management office overseen by the Detroit Economic Growth Corp., which should assemble a leadership team within weeks, said George Jackson, DEGC president and CEO.

Kresge also plans to devote $150 million in its planned expenditures over the next five years to projects that align with “Detroit Future City,” the 349-page document prepared by the long-term planning committee of theDetroit Works Project, Kresge President and CEO Rip Rapson said today during an unveiling of the plan at the planning team’s headquarters on Russell Street.

The strategic framework calls for revitalizing the city through economic development, land reuse, city systems such as lighting and transportation, neighborhoods, and land or building assets.

“You’ve got to have resources” to put a plan in place, Rapson said. “We are talking about billions of dollars of investment over time within the city to implement the plan, but … there are already many millions of dollars of investment coming into this city from various sources each year, and we can put a multiplier on that effort by making it more strategic.”

Detroit Works, a policy initiative of Mayor Dave Bing since 2010, has been operating on private donations from Kresge and Kellogg along with the Community Foundation for Southeast Michigan, the Ford Foundation, the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation and others. A strategic framework plan had been expected for several months.

A planning team previously identified seven “employment districts” with high economic development potential and four “major job opportunity areas” to leverage residents’ job skills. The team circulated draft economic growth strategies to the community starting late last summer.

Rapson said the Kresge Foundation intends to structure all of its planned investment in the city over the next five years to align with the goals of the strategic framework — for a total of $150 million.

Jackson said the seed money from Kresge and Kellogg will fund both the new program office and a few pilot projects to be launched shortly. The city is in discussions with other nonprofits to contribute to that initiative, he said, possibly allowing for other project launches.

“This isn’t something we intend to sit around on. We expect that effort to get under way quickly through the program office — within weeks,” Jackson said. “It’s important to continue with and take advantage of the momentum the plan has already created.”

Bing formed Detroit Works as a way to build a shared vision for improving business and the quality of life in Detroit. He later divided the program into “short-term actions” and “long-term planning” tracks.

Detroit Future City, a strategic framework plan developed under the long-term-planning track, calls for realigning transportation for “faster connections” among neighborhoods and seven key “employment districts” in the city that account for about half of the city’s total employment, including about 40,000 employees in the downtown district alone.

It also proposes ways to encourage investment and streamline the permitting process in the employment districts, creating a public lighting authority and converting streetlights to a “low energy” LED system, and an “open space network” of green and blue infrastructure. These include areas of urban agriculture and ponds or protected water areas that prevent flooding and maintain local natural resources, and possibly alleviate demand on city sewer systems.

The Detroit Future City report also calls for an aggressive regulatory framework and land reuse procedures that address problem landlords and increase the cost of holding vacant property in the city.

Chad Halcom, Crain’s Detroit Business.