Dozens of Detroit projects are set to receive roughly $210 million once Gov. Gretchen Whitmer signs the largest state budget in Michigan history.
State lawmakers passed a $82 billion budget that is expected to get the governor’s approval in the coming weeks. A BridgeDetroit analysis of the massive budget bill found the state will direct significant funds toward dozens of Detroit projects focused on infrastructure improvements, cultural institutions, housing developments and local organizations.
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Eric Lupher, president of the nonpartisan research group Citizens Research Council of Michigan, said Michigan has more money to allocate for community projects thanks to an influx of federal pandemic relief aid and smart budgeting during the COVID-19 crisis.
“The state, by any measure, had more money to work with than it has in a long time, and certainly more than it had over the last 20 years when budgets were very tight,” Lupher said in an interview. “The core functions of state government have accounted for close to 100% of all appropriations being made (in the past). The idea of setting money aside here and there for local projects – this year’s budget had far and away more than we’ve seen.”
Lupher added that Democratic control of the state Legislature has resulted in more funding for pet projects in Democratic districts.
“Certainly Detroit is a major beneficiary of that,” Lupher said. “Republican districts tend not to be major cities and so (during Republican Gov. Rick Snyder’s administration) that money wasn’t necessarily benefitting cities. It was infrequent during those Snyder years to be sending extra money to Detroit or Pontiac or Flint. Now we have a Democratic Legislature and by the nature of what they do, you’re going to send (funds) to districts they represent, and that is going to benefit cities more.”
After approving the budget, House Speaker Joe Tate, D-Detroit, celebrated the work of the Democratic lawmakers who hold a majority in both chambers of the state Legislature for the first time in nearly 40 years. Tate said Detroit lawmakers were instrumental in securing funds for workforce training, affordable housing, restoring health care for retired firefighters, addressing a gun case backlog and neighborhood improvements.
“A budget is a statement of our priorities. As Detroit legislators, we know that what benefits our city will benefit all of Michigan,” said Tate in a statement, noting $10 million in added revenue sharing and more than $20 million for Belle Isle.
$23 million: Belle Isle Park upgrades
Michigan lawmakers directed $23 million in federal pandemic relief to improve infrastructure on Belle Isle Park, including $10 million for heating and cooling repairs at the park’s historic aquarium. Other funds will pay for the remediation of blighted buildings at the former zoo, improvements to the beach and the clean up of hazardous materials, among other things.
Belle Isle is the busiest state park in Michigan, and is cited as the second-most visited state park in the U.S. The Department of Natural Resources has spent tens of millions of dollars to improve facilities on the island since it took over management from Detroit in 2014.
Belle Isle also received $450,000 from the state’s Park Improvement Fund to replace revenue lost by relocating the Detroit Grand Prix downtown this year.
$20 million: Henry Ford Health hospital
Henry Ford Health will receive $20 million to redevelop its campus in Detroit’s New Center area. The hospital is embarking on a $2.5 billion project in partnership with Detroit Pistons Owner Tom Gores and Michigan State University.
Plans call for a new hospital and medical research facility near Henry Ford’s campus on West Grand Boulevard. Gores’ Platinum Equity firm will redevelop Henry Ford’s administrative headquarters into 550 units of residential housing and retail space alongside new parks and basketball courts.
$20 million: Greektown pedestrian safety
Downtown Detroit’s busiest entertainment district could redesign its streets to be more pedestrian-friendly thanks to a $20 million infrastructure grant. The Greektown Neighborhood Partnership wants to improve safety on Monroe Street by reducing traffic to one lane, opening the door for closing the street to cars altogether during events.
A 2022 design plan includes wide sidewalks, no curbs and new landscaping and outdoor furniture. The plan states Monroe’s infrastructure is outdated and doesn’t serve the needs of people who visit Greektown on foot. A high volume of cruising cars, pedestrians, electric scooters, rideshare and food delivery services create heavy congestion and safety hazards. Detroit police often close Monroe to vehicle traffic during peak times and on weekends.
$12 million: Midtown Cultural Center museum district
Midtown Detroit, Inc. is receiving $12 million to create an 83-acre walkable museum district centered in the city’s Cultural Center. A lengthy planning initiative seeks to better connect cultural institutions and create more pedestrian-friendly streets, green spaces and natural gardens, enhanced lighting and other amenities. A first phase includes street enhancements, green stormwater infrastructure and a new parking deck with EV charging stations.
The state funding only makes up a portion of the total investment needed. A larger fundraising campaign is ongoing; $8.6 million collected from donors so far helped create the master plan, install free outdoor Wi-Fi and provide small grants to cultural institutions.
$10 million: Marygrove Development
The budget includes little detail on a $10 million “Marygrove Development” project funded with an economic development grant.
Marygrove Conservancy, a nonprofit stewarding the former college campus in northwest Detroit, is receiving the funds. Since 2018, the conservancy has been restoring historic structures on the campus and started a cradle-to-career program with support from the Kresge Foundation.
$10 million: Police and fire pension payments
Lawmakers appropriated $10 million to boost health care payments to retired Detroit police and firefighters. The budget states the funds will help pensioners partly recover benefits that were reduced due to Detroit’s bankruptcy.
$8 million: North American International Auto Show
Detroit’s annual auto show is receiving support from an economic development grant. This year’s event is scheduled from Sept. 13-24 at Huntington Place.
$7 million: Pope Francis Center shelter project
Pope Francis Center, a Detroit nonprofit that provides services to unhoused residents, is receiving $7 million to support a housing project in the Core City neighborhood.
Construction on the 40-unit Bridge Housing Campus started in April 2022. Pope Francis Center plans to offer temporary shelter between 90 to 120 days along with medical care, mental health resources and job training services.
$6 million: Lee Plaza senior housing
Renovations to a historic but abandoned high-rise apartment building near New Center will be supported with $6 million in state funding. The Lee Plaza development is a joint effort by Roxbury Group and Ethos Development Partners to create affordable units for low-income seniors alongside market rate units.
$5 million: Fisher Body Plant redevelopment
The Detroit Brownfield Redevelopment Authority will get $5 million to support the redevelopment of a long-empty auto body plant.
Fisher Body Plant No. 21 is being turned into Fisher 21 Lofts, a massive apartment and retail project. Developers Gregory Jackson, Richard Hosey and Kevin Lewand are partnering on what’s been called the largest Black-led development deal in Detroit’s history.
The total cost is pegged near $137 million, which includes a significant investment to clean up contamination at the site. Developers plan to create 433 residential units and commercial space.
$5 million: Fisher building restoration
The iconic Fisher Building in New Center is getting $5 million to support redevelopment plans.
Detroit-based developer The Platform has spent more than $30 million on capital improvements, maintenance and upgrades since 2015. The Michigan State University endowment became the majority stakeholder in the landmark skyscraper in June. The Platform remains responsible for operations and leasing.
MSU anticipates supporting “an array of educational, administrative and community-facing functions” within the 95-year-old Fisher Building, according to a press release. The MSU Research Foundation plans to open a start-up incubator inside later this year.
$5 million: DMC Children’s Hospital
COVID-19 relief and recovery grants are supporting operations at DMC Children’s Hospital.
$5 million: Global Michigan Talent Initiative
Immigrant inclusion programs offered by the Global Michigan Talent Initiative will get $5 million. State budget documents show the programs include a range of efforts to attract international entrepreneurs, companies and startups, professionals and students.
$4 million: Charles H. Wright Museum of African American History
Detroit’s African-American history museum will get a $4 million grant, though budget documents do not state what the funding is for. Meanwhile, officials with the Charles H. Wright Museum are urging state lawmakers to give them the ability to ask southeast Michigan voters for an operations millage.
The museum received $6 million in last year’s budget.
$4 million: University of Detroit Mercy Dental Clinic
State funding will support the University of Detroit Mercy Dental Center, which provides clinical services by students who are supervised by licensed dentists. The $4 million grant will help pay for dental education services to Detroiters.
$3 million: Gun case backlog
Detroit will get $3 million to help prosecutors address a backlog in criminal gun cases. Wayne County is receiving $7 million for the same effort.
Mayor Mike Duggan referenced the backlog earlier this year as a barrier to reducing gun violence in the city. Duggan said a glut of cases were being slowly processed due to the COVID-19 pandemic, but said during a May press conference that he’s encouraged by a reduction in the backlog.
$3 million: Detroit Police Athletic League
A nonprofit sports organization partnered with the Detroit Police Department is getting $3 million under the proposed budget to support youth programs. A community enhancement grant would help pay for “renovations and additions,” according to budget documents.
$2.5 million: North End development project
An economic development grant was allocated for a housing and business development project in Detroit’s North End neighborhood.
Budget documents name the recipient as Vanguard Community Development Corp., a nonprofit that recently reopened the renovated Marwood Apartments to tenants. The budget does not provide more detail on the “north end housing and business development project,” though developers are working with Avanath Development and RMC Development on the $43 million project.
City Council is poised to vote later this summer on a proposed brownfield plan that would reimburse developers $7.6 million in construction costs with taxes collected over the next 35 years. Developers are planning to create 177 rental units and eight townhomes across 11 buildings between Caniff Street and East Grand Boulevard. Two apartment buildings with 95 units are dedicated to senior housing.
$2.5 million: Michigan Minority Supplier Development Council
A Detroit-based nonprofit focused on driving economic growth in minority communities received a $2.5 million workforce development grant. The funds will help expand programs that provide training, certification and other resources to minority business enterprises, according to budget documents.
$2.5 million: Right to Counsel legal aid program
A recently-launched eviction defense program that offers free legal services to Detroit tenants received a boost from the state.
Detroit is funding the legal aid program for three years with $18 million in federal pandemic relief. The state allocation raises the total budget to $20.5 million. Attorney Tonya Myers Phillips, project leader for the Detroit Right to Counsel Coalition, thanked state Sen. Stephanie Chang, D-Detroit, and Detroit City Council President Mary Sheffield for their work to secure the funding.
“This state investment will make a tangible impact by preventing unjust evictions and keeping over a thousand Detroiters, primarily Black women, and children, in their homes,” Phillips said in a statement.
$2 million: National guard conventions
State funds will help Detroit host two National Guard conventions in August 2024. A $2 million allocation is going to an unnamed local convention and visitor bureau. The annual National Guard Association of the United States’ General Conference and Exhibition is planned for Huntington Place next year.
$2 million: Detroit Grand Prix
Detroit’s annual auto race is being partly subsidized with $2 million in state funds set aside to “support capital improvements.”
The Grand Prix returned downtown earlier this summer after taking place on Belle Isle since 1992. The move required months of road improvements on streets owned by the state, city and General Motors Co. It’s unclear whether the one-time funding helps cover the cost of those capital improvements, or if the funds will be used for next year’s race.
$2 million: Wayne State pregnancy research
Wayne State University will get $2 million to continue storing frozen samples used for research on improving pregnancy outcomes. The funds fill a gap left by the National Institutes of Health, which closed its research branch on WSU’s campus in January.
$2 million: LGBTQ health center in Hazel Park
Corktown Health, a Detroit-based nonprofit that services LGBTQ residents, is adding a new clinic to Hazel Park next year with $2 million in state funding support. The funds support primary care, behavioral health services, HIV care, cancer screening and health insurance navigation.
The goal is to “provide the LGBTQ community with safe, high-quality, and affirming health care,” according to budget documents.
Corktown Health also plans to open a new dental clinic at its Detroit facility this month.
$2 million: Farwell Recreation Center
Long-awaited renovations of the Farwell Recreation Center on Detroit’s northeast side are supported with $2 million in state funding.
Last month, the Detroit City Council approved a $3.7 million contract to build a new gymnasium at Farwell. It will be paid for with federal pandemic relief funds. Council Member Scott Benson said residents have been asking for a new gym “for well over a generation.”
Detroit also approved $500,000 to reconstruct tennis courts and $345,200 for engineering services in the last year.
$2 million: Junior Achievement youth education
Junior Achievement of Michigan, a nonprofit that provides youth workforce development programs, is receiving $2 million for its work in Detroit and Grand Rapids.
$1.5 million: Historic freemason lodge
A Detroit freemasonry organization is receiving $1.5 million to renovate its historic building in the McDougall-Hunt neighborhood.
Prince Hall Grand Lodge, formerly known as Amaranth Temple, was built in 1924 and is the oldest fraternal headquarters for Masonic lodges in Detroit. It’s occupied by the Most Worshipful Prince Hall Grand Lodge of Michigan, Free and Accepted Masons.
$1.2 million: Home renovation program
Detroit’s home repair program for seniors and disabled residents is receiving $1.2 million. The funds will be used to pay for renovations and ensure homes are compliant with the Americans with Disabilities Act.
A person must be a Detroit resident, over the age of 65 or have a disability to be eligible.
$1.1 million: North Rosedale Park Community House
A nonprofit in northwest Detroit will get $1.1 million for upgrades to its community gathering space.
The state funding is allocated to the North Rosedale Park Civic Association for infrastructure repairs and upgrades. The organization manages the North Rosedale Park Community House, surrounded by a four-acre park, which can be rented for local events and parties.
$1 million: Orchard Village Apartments
Detroit Blight Busters was awarded $1 million to support an affordable housing project in the Old Redford Neighborhood.
A joint partnership between the nonprofit group and CHN Housing Partners aims to create 48 two-bedroom apartments renting for between 30-60% of the area median income. The $14 million project started last year is supported by tax credits from the Michigan State Housing Development Authority and federal grants. Construction was expected to begin this year and finish by summer 2024.
Detroit Blight Busters is receiving $450,000 to support construction of a tiny house community and $100,000 to build a children’s camp facility.
$1 million: Jefferson-Chalmers flood protection
State funds will help pay for water infrastructure improvements to prevent flooding in the Jefferson-Chalmers neighborhood on the east side. Residents have mobilized for help from state and federal officials to address sewage and stormwater backups after the neighborhood was hit with catastrophic floods in the summer of 2021.
State budget documents don’t say exactly how the $1 million would be used, just that water infrastructure improvements “will support a flood protection project.”
$1 million: Life Remodeled renovate school buildings
A nonprofit that repurposes former school buildings into “opportunity hubs” is receiving $1 million to support its work in Detroit.
Life Remodeled is lining up to buy the Marvin L. Winans Academy of Performing Arts in the Denby High School neighborhood for its first east side community hub. The group plans to lease the building to nonprofit partners that offer after school youth programs, workforce development initiatives and health and wellness resources.
$1 million: Detroit Horse Power
State funding is supporting a nonprofit founded by a former Detroit teacher that provides free summer camp and afterschool programs where children can interact with horses.
Detroit Horse Power received $1 million to help construct an urban equestrian education center. The organization acquired a demolished school site and has been raising funds to build the new facility.
$1 million: Detroit Opera House
The Detroit Opera House will get $1 million toward a variety of improvements, including HVAC upgrades, changes to ensure compliance with the Americans with Disabilities Act, security improvements and other work to preserve historic assets.
$1 million: Girl Scouts of Southeast Michigan
State funding is supporting the work of the Girl Scouts in Detroit to build an “immersive education destination” for youth. Budget documents state the education center will offer entrepreneurship, outdoor education, STEM/STEAM activities and life skills programming.
$700,000: Workforce training for homeless Detroiters
A community enhancement grant will support the Empowerment Plan, a nonprofit workforce development organization that hires homeless Detroiters to manufacture coats that double as full-length sleeping bags.
The organization will use the funding to expand its garment workforce training program, according to state budget documents.
$650,000: Expungement services
Legal Aid Defender Association, Inc. will have $650,000 to support its work to remove criminal convictions from the public record so past offenders have an easier time securing jobs and housing.
The organization serves residents in Wayne, Oakland and Macomb counties.
$500,000: Invest Detroit
Invest Detroit, a nonprofit business investment firm, is receiving $500,000 in economic development grant funding to support small business and venture capitalist initiatives. The organization promotes economic growth in Detroit by supporting business and real estate projects.
$500,000: The Children’s Center youth programming
Detroit nonprofit The Children’s Center will get $500,000 toward helping kids who struggle with behavioral, emotional, educational and developmental challenges.
The funding will help pay for youth crisis care programs, according to budget documents.
$500,000: The Greening of Detroit
State funds will support The Greening of Detroit, a nonprofit that plants trees and provides job training for residents. The organization has planted thousands of trees across the city using volunteers.
$400,000: Football scholarship program
Youth mentoring programs operated by the nonprofit Sound Mind Sound Body Sports Academy could expand with $400,000 in state funds. The organization aims to increase the number of football student-athletes who graduate high school and earn college degrees.
$250,000: Development Centers
Development Centers, a nonprofit Detroit organization, is receiving $250,000 to support mental health, early childhood learning and adult employment programs.
Other grant allocations to unnamed groups
The budget also includes funding for several other organizations that were not specifically named:
- $3 million to an unnamed organization that specializes in American Indian health services and has a clientele primarily of Medicaid recipients to build a medical, behavioral health, and community wellness center in Detroit.
- A $500,000 grant will support an unnamed nonprofit business alliance that offers entrepreneur capital and technical assistance programs. The funding will go toward youth and adult engagement programs.
- $500,000 for home assessments and health action plans to improve safe and quality housing for low-income residents and families. Budget documents do not clearly state what organization will receive the funds, but the qualifying community development corporation must partner with a Federally Qualified Health Center.
- $500,000 to help a nonprofit community-based organization convert structures into emergency homeless shelters.
- $240,000 to support an unnamed nonprofit with repurposing vacant parking lots to mitigate flooding. The budget allocation will help build a green stormwater rain garden, provide stormwater runoff protection and reduce water costs, according to budget documents.