Home // HISTORY ARCHIVE: 1970-2000


The following summarizes some of the major projects undertaken by Detroit Renaissance since the organization’s inception in 1970.


City Services Initiative – Detroit Renaissance engaged the consulting firm of David M. Griffith & Associates to perform a diagnostic benchmarking study of City of Detroit government services. Activities comprising 73 percent of the city’s $2.4 billion budget were compared to benchmarks and industry standards in the consultant’s database. Significant opportunities for resource reallocation were identified, as well as activities that equaled or surpassed the benchmarks.

Detroit Investment Fund – The Detroit Investment Fund is a private capital fund created by Detroit Renaissance to provide financing to growth-oriented businesses, progressive, high-impact real estate projects and special projects which address strategic needs in the City of Detroit.

Downtown Gateway BID – Detroit Downtown, Inc. and Detroit Renaissance established a voluntary business improvement district, which helped to make the downtown target area cleaner and more inviting. Detroit Renaissance provided $20,000 to develop a Jefferson Avenue median landscaping design plan. The organizations also provided support for state legislation enabling the creation of business improvement districts.

Empowerment Zone – Detroit Renaissance played a major role in coordinating private-sector commitments for the federal empowerment zone application. Through 1999, Detroit lending institutions made loans totaling $1.3 billion – 125% of the ten-year lending goal within its first five years of operations.

Environmental Reform – In February of 1995, the Policy Issues Committee and the Executive Committee agreed to take an active role in the reforming of Public Act 307. Detroit Renaissance convened a group of environmental experts from Detroit Renaissance companies to draft an environmental policy statement and to serve as technical experts on the project. The majority of recommendations put forth in the policy statement were incorporated in Part 201 of the Michigan Natural Resources and Environmental Protection Act (former Act 307).

Greater Downtown Partnership – The GDP was established by Detroit Renaissance and the City of Detroit to develop a strategy to revitalize the central city using Woodward Avenue and Campus Martius as a hub. The GDP later merged with Detroit Downtown, Inc. to form the Downtown Detroit Partnership.

Intervale Cloverdale Livernois Lyndon Industrial Park (ICLL) – Detroit Renaissance administered a Hudson-Webber Foundation grant and provided technical assistance for the creation of an area public improvement plan. The plan resulted in the completion of infrastructure enhancements in this Renaissance Zone area.

Michigan Business Roundtable – Started in partnership with Grand Action, a Grand Rapids based civic organization, the Michigan Business Roundtable was an independent, non-partisan and non-profit organization composed of chief executive officers of Michigan-based corporations. Its members worked in conjunction with other business organizations and public officials, to aid in the solution of issues and questions of strategic importance to the economic vitality of the state of Michigan and the quality of life of its residents.

Proposal A Tax Reform – Detroit Renaissance provided support and advocacy for an overhaul of the tax structure that changed the way schools were funded and provided for educational reforms. Proposal A proposed a minimum per pupil foundation allowance, more equity among local school districts, lower property taxes, and more school accountability. On March 15, 1994, Michigan voters approved Proposal A.

Public Policy Initiatives – The following examples of public policy initiatives were undertaken by Detroit Renaissance in the 1990’s and 2000’s: Demolition of Dangerous Buildings Study, Spot Blight and Obsolete Buildings Legislation, State Brownfield Remediation Policy, State Revenue Sharing and City Income Tax Rate Policies, State School Improvement (including Charter Schools), Tax Reversion and Land Assembly Policies

Renaissance Zones – Detroit Renaissance worked with the Detroit Planning & Development Department, Detroit Economic Growth Corporation, and the Detroit Regional Chamber in developing a successful Renaissance Zone application. Six sub-zones specified in the application were designated by the state in 1996.

Shorebank – This institution was established to stimulate redevelopment, upgrade the housing stock and provide business capital and support services in the eastern end of the Empowerment Zone. Detroit Renaissance provided technical support and funding assistance to this $15 million initiative. Several Detroit Renaissance companies participated financially in this endeavor.

Stadium Complex – Comerica Park and Ford Field, the $600 million side-by-side stadium complex for the Detroit Tigers and Detroit Lions was built on a parcel located east of Woodward Avenue in the Theater District. Detroit Renaissance provided technical assistance during the project development phase, and several Detroit Renaissance companies assisted in funding the successful ballot campaign.


Cobo Hall Expansion – Detroit Renaissance assisted in the effort to put together the financial package necessary for the Convention Center’s expansion.

Detroit Strategic Plan – Detroit Renaissance initiated this major effort to outline recommendations that could be implemented to address many of this City’s problem issues. Recommendations dealing with crime, race relations, image, jobs and economic development and education were developed.

Greening of Detroit – Detroit Renaissance offered technical planning assistance to this nonprofit group dedicated to re-foresting the city. Detroit Renaissance provided start-up office space and clerical assistance.

Harmonie Park – This $20 million mixed-use development incorporates office, entertainment and residential uses in an area adjacent to Comerica Park and Ford Field. Detroit Renaissance led the original development planning effort in 1984, provided a loan guarantee, and directed pre-development funding assistance to the project.

Historic District Home Repair Program – Detroit Renaissance managed a home repair program in Boston-Edison, Arden Park, Berry Subdivision, West Canfield, Indian Village and West Village. The program resulted in essential improvements made to 85 wwner-occupied homes.

Lester Morgan Cultural Garden Apartments – Detroit Renaissance assisted in funding the site design work of this 127-unit townhouse development in order to insure that this project complements the architectural integrity of the Cultural Center.

Loft Housing Ordinance – Detroit’s City Planning Commission asked Detroit Renaissance to provide input and business community support for the establishment of a new loft housing ordinance. The new ordinance, which was subsequently adopted, promotes the adaptive reuse of underutilized commercial and industrial buildings into housing.

Physical Improvements Program – In partnership with the Detroit Recreation Department, several projects were completed including: Edison and Alger Fountain Restoration; Scott Fountain Marble Restoration; Dodge Fountain Renovation; Soldiers and Sailors Monument Restoration; Hart Plaza Riverfront Promenade Lighting; and Harmonie Park and Hart Plaza Landscaping Improvements.

Special Events – Detroit Renaissance sponsored the following signature events to showcase the city: Detroit Grand Prix, Montreux Detroit International Jazz Festival, International Freedom Festival, and Thanksgiving Day Parade.

Stearns Building – Detroit Renaissance provided technical assistance to developers proposing to transform a vacant pharmaceutical building across from Belle Isle into loft units. Today, the Lofts at Rivertown contain 175 for-sale condominium units.

Uniroyal Plant Demolition – Through Detroit Renaissance’s land banking program, $400,000 was loaned to the City of Detroit to assist in demolishing the vacant Uniroyal Plant on Detroit’s east riverfront. The demolition opened up 39 acres of prime riverfront property.


Building Recycling Program – Four obsolete but structurally sound office buildings in Washington Boulevard area were converted into 405 housing units. Detroit Renaissance provided program design, front-end financing and on-going project monitoring. Land banking assistance was provided.

Central Industrial Park – A General Motors assembly plant was constructed at the Central Industrial Park. Detroit Renaissance managed and partially funded a project impact study.

Detroit People Mover – The Downtown People Mover Committee was headed by Detroit Renaissance, and with the assistance of the Ford Foundation, we funded the cost of the preliminary feasibility study.

Elmwood II Commercial/Residential Development – Detroit Renaissance promoted the sale and development of urban renewal land to a developer who constructed a shopping center and 200-unit residential tower.

Elmwood III – With the City of Detroit and Elmwood Citizens District Council, Detroit Renaissance prepared a Master Development Plan, Builders Prospectus and Marketing Strategy Report. We also helped identify a developer and financing source.

Forest Park Development and Marketing Plan – Working with the City of Detroit and Forest Park Citizens District Council, Detroit Renaissance prepared a residential development plan and marketing strategy for a large vacant parcel north of Eastern Market.

Music Hall Center for the Performing Arts – Detroit Renaissance saved this facility from demolition and arranged a Kresge Foundation grant in order to purchase it. Detroit Renaissance provided $100,000 directly, and secured a grant of $50,000 from the National Endowment of the Arts plus other funds to preserve this first rate facility for the performing arts.

Renaissance Center – Detroit Renaissance focused the community’s corporate leadership in support of the efforts of Henry Ford II in the development of Renaissance Center.

Riverfront Apartments – This 849-unit residential project consists of the $77 million, 29-story twin towers built in 1984 and a third tower built in 1991 at a cost of $42 million. Detroit Renaissance conducted the initial market feasibility study for the project in the late 1970’s. Max Fisher and A. Alfred Taubman were lead project developers.

Trolley Plaza – Detroit Renaissance, through its land banking program, purchased the property on behalf of the Detroit Downtown Development Authority to secure the site for the construction of the 351-unit apartment building and garage.