Midtown Detroit has gone through a major transformation in recent years. It’s become one of the most dynamic areas in Detroit. With young professionals, businesses and residents moving into the area, Midtown is becoming a vibrant enclave in a city desperately needing a beacon. Sue Mosey, President, has been a driving force behind this transformation.
Small Talk recently interviewed Mosey for her perspective on what’s happening across Midtown.
ST: What were some major wins for MDI in 2011?
SM: The Live Midtown Program is one of the most important wins in the partnership and collaboration that was established between the three major anchor institutions in Midtown to facilitate an increase of residents to the area. The program, launched January, 2011, involves incentives to encourage their employees to live where they work.
-Woodward Gardens: MDI is the anchor tenant in the Woodward Gardens building which has attracted the Kresge Foundation as a tenant as well as the Great Lakes Coffee Roasting Company which will be setting up shop in the near future.
-The Auburn: Currently under construction, the Auburn is a mixed-use development $12 million, 56,000 square foot building located at Cass and Canfield.
-Living Cities Integration Initiative: The Integration Initiative (TII) supports cities that are harnessing existing momentum and leadership for change, overhauling long obsolete systems and fundamentally reshaping communities and policies to meet the needs of low-income residents.
-Art X Detroit: The Kresge Arts Experienceis a five-day multidisciplinary biennial celebration featuring the work of 40 Kresge Foundation artist fellows and eminent artists.
ST: What are the key priorities for MDI in 2012?
SM: The most important priority is to revitalize the area by bringing business and investment to Midtown. One of the businesses now locating in Midtown is Whole Foods which will fill the demand for a neighborhood grocery store. Other priorities include the Completion of Phase II of the Midtown Greenway and continued development of New Center Park.
ST: Please identify challenges still confronting Midtown and strategically, how will these be addressed?
SM: One of the most pressing challenges is locating available space in Midtown for entrepreneurs and businesses. Midtown has developed a reputation as a place that is progressive, innovative, and fresh with an emergent vitality that literally attracts people to its doors. This is a challenge that can only be addressed by being persistent and knowledgeable in locating sites that will benefit the business as well as the community.
MDI’s strategy to overcome challenges confronting Midtown includes ensuring a clean and safe environment, façade enhancements, upgrading, renovating, and constructing new buildings and continuing to offer have special events such as Noel Night and Art X Detroit and activities at New Center Park.
ST: How much economic development has been stimulated?
SM: There has been a large increase in investment in Midtown. Most recently, Detroit Medical Center (DMC), newly acquired by Vanguard Health Systems, Inc., announced they will be investing $850 million in capital improvements to its hospitals and facilities. And Whole Foods who has made more than a $20 million investment in their Midtown Detroit store will open May 2013
ST: Please talk about Midtown’s role in Detroit’s economic recovery?
SM: Midtown’s role in Detroit’s economic recovery is as a catalyst in revitalization. Midtown’s revitalization has brought a steady increase in commerce to the area to help boost the area’s economy and as visitors enjoy the cultural center, they will stay longer, spend money, and return.
ST: Has there been an increase in entrepreneurship in the ar
ea? If so, why?
SM: While the economy has played a large part in the boom of entrepreneurs that are locating, or shown an interest in locating in Midtown, there are many factors that are at play in why Midtown has become such a draw to entrepreneurs–many of whom are inspired by the Midtown Detroit energy, and many of whom are displaced workers who see the opportunity in creating their own jobs.
ST: If one’s considering entrepreneurship, how does MDI assist those wanting to start or relocate a business to Midtown?
SM: MDI provides valuable information and support to those wishing to locate their businesses in Midtown. MDI has a dedicated support person who is available to offer information and support to startups as well as help to ensure that businesses in Midtown stay in Midtown.
ST: What are Detroit’s longer-term prospects as the economy rebounds?
SM: MDI’s longer-term prospects as the economy rebounds include: an increase in population density in Midtown which will increase the consumer base for Midtown Detroit businesses helping them to thrive; additional businesses locating in Midtown that subsequently will create more jobs; an increase in the entrepreneurial spirit to drive innovation; and the attraction of more developers and lenders to invest in Midtown.