Exclusive: Henry Ford Health System and Partners Invest $4.2 Billion to Transform Detroit Neighborhood

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Henry Ford Health System and its development partners plan to spend $4.2 billion to transform the neighborhoods around Henry Ford Hospital. // Courtesy of Henry Ford Health System

Henry Ford Health System and its development partners plan to spend $4.2 billion to transform the neighborhoods around Henry Ford Hospital into a mixed-use community featuring new and renovated residences, retail offerings, medical and research facilities, industrial buildings, educational centers, added streetscapes, and parks.

In 2015, the health system began acquiring property south of Henry Ford Hospital in a 30-acre area bounded roughly by West Grand Boulevard to the north, Lodge Freeway Service Drive to the east, Rosa Parks Boulevard to the west and a set of railroad tracks to the south.

In recent years the district has seen the development of a large distribution center for medical supplies for Cardinal Health, the Henry Ford Cancer Institute and the Brigitte Harris Cancer Pavilion, the Holden Block which includes Rebel Nell, York Project, Soft Goods Detroit , a $48-million medical laundry service (with Michigan Medicine and Saint Joseph Mercy Health System), and more.

Major landowners in and near the district located in the NW Goldberg neighborhood include Henry Ford Health System, City of Detroit (various departments), Orca Property Management, Health Alliance Plan, Wayne State University, Young Supply Co., and Grasso Holdings . A few blocks west of the neighborhood is the Motown Museum.

“The vision for what will be two decades of work was born when we looked around and said we can’t have population health without economic health,” said Bob Riney, president of healthcare operations and Chief Operating Officer of the Henry Ford Health System. . “I’ve been with Henry Ford for over 40 years and remember when our employees lived in the vicinity of the hospital and could walk to work.

“Since 2015, we have created a long-term vision to restore housing, add housing, bring in new development and create green spaces. We currently own and maintain over 200 properties and have demolished over 100 structures that could not be saved. We also recycled everything we could and sold properties to owners who would improve the neighborhood. »

The health system has created numerous partnerships to advance renovation efforts, including with NW Goldberg Cares, Kresge Foundation, Midtown Detroit Inc., numerous city and state departments, Michigan State University, Premier Group Associates, Kirco, Thomas Roberts Architects, PEA Group, SMEs, and more.

According to US Census data, of the approximately 6,800 people who live around the hospital, the median household income ranges from $9,600 to $26,900. By comparison, the median household income for the entire city is $27,800. Put simply, 48.2% of residents around the institution live below the poverty line, compared to 33.4% overall in Detroit.

To reverse the trend – the region has seen a 31% drop in population since the 2010 census – Henry Ford Health System and partners are stepping up investments and forging new partnerships to accelerate a renaissance.

“We are working with Michigan State University on a joint research institute (between 300,000 square feet and 400,000 square feet) that is in the design phase and we are looking for an exact location,” says Riney. “It will house doctors and researchers working on translational research to improve the health of the population. We know life expectancy and health outcomes are tied to the zip code you live in, and we want to make the community better and healthier.

Riney says he envisions more people choosing to live in neighborhoods near the hospital, work in the area, and walk to an employer, ride a bike, or take a short trip on public transit. .

“We focus on job creation, neighborhood inclusion and environmental stewardship,” says Riney. “We even took limestone blocks from a demolished church and used them to create border elements for a plaza and other public attributes.”

Additionally, the hospital is working with the city to improve access to the neighborhood and better connect to other neighborhoods – Trumbull Street leads to Corktown, for example, where Ford Motor Co. and several partners are transforming Michigan Central Station into a mobility innovation district.

“We have worked diligently with Henry Ford Health System and others to transform the North Goldberg neighborhood for more than 12 years, and we have deep roots in driving improvements in this area,” said Andrew Housey, president of Premier Group Associates in Detroit. “We have removed over 10 dangerous structures to clear the way for new developments and worked to improve properties that can be salvaged.

“We commend Henry Ford Health System for his vision and hard work in bringing about positive change in the region. Their work, along with others like Ford Motor Co., takes a holistic approach to redevelopment of areas around the city. It’s a model that other businesses and organizations can use to improve neighborhoods.

Several hundred jobs have already been created in North Goldberg, and Henry Ford and his partners plan to develop more projects that will boost employment opportunities.

Additionally, new developments are approaching the neighborhood, including the expansion of the Motown Museum and the redevelopment of Lee Plaza, a vacant tower at 2240 West Grand Boulevard that is being converted into $48 million affordable senior housing. dollars led by the city. and two developers – The Roxbury Group and Ethos Development Partners.

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