"Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world.

Indeed, it is the only thing that ever has"

Margaret Mead, Anthropologist
(used with permission)

"If you don't like the news .... go out and make some of your own !!"

Wes "Scoop" Nisker, Newscaster


Government is a slow and tedious process. While it often includes citizen and neighborhood involvement, non-governmental, private organizations have created movements and interesting groups which can create positive change in our cities and towns.

I am fascinated by the way groups are created and how they influence public decision making. This blog merely recognizes them and forwards the description of these groups from their own websites.

Monday, July 22, 2013

Midtown Detroit, Inc.

Location: Detroit, MI

Website: www.midtowndetroitinc.org

Midtown Detroit, Inc. is a vital force in the success of Midtown’s revitalization; helping to promote community property.

Midtown Detroit, Inc. (MDI) is a nonprofit 501(c)(3) organization created to support and enhance community and economic development in the Midtown area through collaboration and partnerships with key stakeholders and supportive funders. MDI is the result of a collaborative merger between the University Cultural Center Association and the New Center Council, whose organizations had a similar mission and a focus on real estate development, economic development, and the preservation of the districts’ history. Both prior organizations have been responsible for a remarkable number of successful community initiatives that have encouraged new housing development, increased visitorship to area attractions, supported new and increased commercial activity, and expedited infrastructure improvements to revitalize the greater Midtown district.

MDI will continue to be a major catalyst in supporting the involvement of core neighborhood and community organizations in addressing the social and economic needs of the Midtown district. Midtown’s revitalization has been successful due to collaboration and committed participation of the area’s arts, culture, academic, medical and service institutions; corporations; government; property and business owners; community and neighborhood organizations; and partnerships with private, philanthropic and public entities. Nearly 150 member organizations and more than 300 representatives from these organizations actively participate in MDI activities through committees that have been responsible for the completion and/or ongoing operation of over 30 programs and projects in the Midtown district.

A vital force in the success of Midtown’s revitalization is MDI’s ongoing community improvement initiatives include maintaining the aesthetic value of local public spaces; providing walkable passage to area attractions and businesses; championing new construction; encouraging reinvestment; preserving our heritage through restoration and renovation of the area’s buildings and homes; and enhancing awareness and appreciation of the area through marketing and special events. These initiatives have successfully positioned the region as a sustainable urban center that is a vibrant, diverse, and desirable destination.

he area is also home to exceptional art, culture, education, and medical establishments. MDI has created appealing walkable access to these venues and area stores, which promotes increased visitorship in addition to providing easy and attractive passage for the community. These walkable greenways provide additional open green spaces and enhanced safety features creating an inviting environment and contributing to the many reasons Midtown has experienced a surge in population growth.

The increased appeal of Midtown and the corresponding rise in residency have generated a need for additional mixed-income and mixed-use residential development. The need has spurred reinvestment, new construction and renovation of existing buildings and homes, and an increase in businesses, services, and entertainment all placed in close proximity to its residents, workforce, and visitors, making the area more desirable, improving the quality of life, revitalizing the community and creating economic stability.

Midtown is home to the largest concentration of cultural, educational and medical institutions in Southeast Michigan. The Detroit Institute of Arts, Detroit Public Library, C. H. Wright Museum of African American History, Detroit Historical Museum, Wayne State University, College for Creative Studies, Detroit Medical Center, Detroit Symphony Orchestra Hall, Masonic Temple, Wayne State University Research and Technology Park (TechTown) and the Henry Ford Hospital campus are all based in the Midtown district. Midtown establishments host two million visitors annually and the area has a daytime population of fifty thousand. Midtown boasts 2 radio stations, its own symphony, 2 historic inns, 10 theaters, 7 museums, over 30 restaurants, 13 galleries, 2 radio stations, 2 hardware stores, 2 dry cleaners, an organic bakery, fresh markets, a gourmet farmers market and a multitude of other services and shopping destinations in addition to ongoing activities and events - all within 2.8 square miles, making the area one of the best walkable communities in Detroit.

Midtown is one of the fastest developing areas in Detroit with a growing residential base and many opportunities for new construction and rehabilitation as well as restoration within its many historic neighborhoods. Midtown’s largest population is comprised of persons between the ages of 25-44 in addition to a considerable number of seniors, a growing moderate-to middle-income component, and a significant concentration of low-income residents.

Midtown Detroit, Inc. (MDI) is a nonprofit planning and development organization that supports the physical maintenance and revitalization of the Midtown Detroit area, while working to enhance public awareness, appreciation and use of the district.

With the 2011 merger of the University Cultural Center Association and New Center Council, MDI assumed the initiatives and programs of an expanded geographic footprint incorporating both the Midtown Detroit and the New Center areas. Midtown Detroit is bordered by the Edsel Ford Freeway (I-94) to the north, the Fisher Freeway (I-75) to the south, the Lodge freeway (M-10) on the west, and Chrysler Freeway (I-75) on the east. The additional New Center area is just west of the intersection of Woodward Avenue and Grand Boulevard, and is approximately bounded by Virginia Park Historic District on the north, the Ford Freeway (I-94) on the south, John R on the east and the Lodge Freeway (M-10), including the Henry Ford Hospital campus on the west.

The unique character and resources of Midtown Detroit inspired the leaders of Wayne State University, the College for Creative Studies, the Detroit Institute of Arts and the Engineering Society of Detroit to form Midtown Detroit, Inc. (MID) affiliate the University Cultural Center Association (UCCA) which was created in 1976.

In 1987, after an internal review of the organization's mission, changes were implemented including Board of Directors restructuring, expanded membership, progressive dues structure, and access to greater resources to initiate new and expanded projects. 

In 1995, the Board of Directors developed a strategic plan that focused on the area’s growth and associated needs.  Priorities that were identified include expanded parking capacity; area maintenance and beautification; area-wide directional signage; and the creation of a forum where members of the police department and public safety collaborated to ensure a safe district.

Since 2000, UCCA, an affiliate of MDI, has played a significant role in the community and economic development of the Midtown district. MDI and its affiliate, UCCA, have raised over $55 million for a variety of initiatives. While all are important, some of the most notable include the restoration and conversion of six historic homes into a boutique hotel; the Midtown Greenway; the Woodward Avenue Streetscape Enhancement project; the creation of the Sugar Hill Arts District; the construction of two community gardens; the renovation of over twenty commercial facades throughout the district, and increased security and safety via a Security Matching Grant program for property and businesses owners. In addition, the organization has also facilitated funding for over 30 residential developments resulting in over 700 new units of housing and has assisted over 20 local businesses with technical assistance and financing.

Most recently, MDI has implemented a number of new anchor institution initiatives such as “Live Midtown” and “Buy Detroit” programs. To date, over 200 employees have been approved for the Live Midtown residential incentive program and anchor institutions have begun to purchase from a number of local businesses in the areas of food, recycling, waste removal, and facilities maintenance.

MDI also developed a successful comprehensive communication and marketing campaign to increase awareness of Midtown’s numerous qualities, stimulate population growth, and attract new business to the area. The campaign advertises housing options; connects people to Midtown museums, theatres, galleries, restaurants, and retail stores; and promotes local cultural events including MDI’s two signature events – Art X Detroit and Noel Night.

In 2010, the City of Detroit was selected to participate in the Living Cities Integration Initiative, with MDI as the lead applicant. Through the Integration Initiative, Detroit is eligible for up to $22 million in grants, commercial loans and Program-Related Investments (PRIs) to support its efforts. The funding will help stabilize the Midtown area, adjacent North End neighborhood, and New Center area, through blight reduction, the productive re-use of land and buildings, and the improvement of key neighborhoods, providing access to improved educational, employment, and small business opportunities.

In early 2011, Midtown Detroit, Inc. was formally approved with the merger of UCCA and New Center Council.

The organization has expanded its staff and geographic footprint, increased its real estate investment activities and is implementing additional programs. This new footprint incorporates TechTown and the New Center area which will allow the organization to work more closely with the Henry Ford Health System, University Preparatory Schools, College for Creative Studies, TechTown, and many other anchors.

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