Livernois streetscape project underway


The first phase of the Livernois Streetscape Enhancement Project kicked off last month with a groundbreaking ceremony, yet one more indication of the vitality of the historic “Avenue of Fashion.” The project will include pedestrian-oriented median improvements, sidewalk enhancements and new landscaping on Livernois Avenue from the Lodge Freeway to 8 Mile Road. It’s expected to be completed in November.

“Livernois Avenue is the ‘gateway’ to the McNichols campus of University of Detroit Mercy (UDM) and a major thoroughfare for many northwest Detroit residents and businesses,” said Dr. Antoine M. Garibaldi, president of UDM. “Enhancing the Livernois streetscape and landscape from the Lodge Freeway to 8 Mile will make a strong impression on potential residents and business owners, as well as prospective UDM students and their families.”

Isaiah McKinnon, deputy mayor of Detroit, said, “Just like many of the neighborhoods it connects, this stretch of Livernois is being revitalized, thanks to the great partnership between our community organizations, major institutions, nonprofits, local businesses and the city. When it is completed, this streetscape project will return Livernois to the kind of walkable shopping district that supports nearby neighborhoods and draws visitors from across Detroit and surrounding communities.”

The $1.3 million project was funded by MDOT, the City of Detroit, DEGC, The Kresge Foundation and UDM. WH Canon Company, a landscape construction firm, is the project contractor for Phase I.

Malik Goodwin

Vice President, Project Management

Let’s put the pedal to the metal


I am excited to be in Detroit serving the city in my new role as President and CEO of DEGC. I got into economic development because I’m a firm believer that the best way to strengthen quality of life, ensure long-term opportunities for our loved ones, and combat society’s ails is a solid economy with good jobs. Whether I was leading efforts to ensure jobs for the people of New Orleans, as in my last role, or recruiting global companies to Phoenix prior to that, I have always been firmly committed to strategies and programs that are aggressive and effective, thoughtful and focused, and that play to the inherent strengths of the local market.

The recent groundbreaking for a new sports and entertainment district Downtown is a good example of that kind of strategy, and it would not have happened without the excellent work of DEGC. The new district will be a catalyst for additional investment and a destination for visitors who will leave here with positive experiences from our city. Chris Ilitch, president and CEO of Ilitch Holdings described the district as “Detroit built,” and we have the tools and the commitment to ensure that it generates jobs and training opportunities for Detroit residents and Detroit-based businesses.

Under my leadership, with direction from our board, DEGC will continue to build on the strengths of Detroit to craft our story as we attract new investment and companies, provide leadership in real estate development, and drive prosperity. Detroit has a rich history as an economic and cultural hub and is clearly on its way to a strong recovery. Detroit can and should be a leader in the global next economy. Using the key building blocks of committed business leadership, political will, and community engagement, we can ensure the strong economy that the people of Detroit deserve. As CEO of DEGC, it’s my aim to work collaboratively, yet provide strong leadership, and to continue to communicate our shared path forward.

As noted elsewhere in this newsletter, DEGC has professional staff that wins awards and is recognized for its leadership. I’m honored to join such a top-notch group of professionals. They are a very skilled crew with the enthusiasm and work ethic needed to keep pressing ahead.

Together we are going to “put the pedal to the metal” to accelerate the revitalization of Detroit. Onward and Upward,

Rodrick Miller

President and CEO

DDA bond approval puts shovels in the ground for $650 million investment

Ceremonial shovels went into the ground for the new $650 million sports and entertainment district Downtown just nine days after the Detroit Downtown Development Authority (DDA) approved the financial plan for building the new event center in partnership with the Michigan Strategic Fund (MSF) and Olympia Development of Michigan (ODM).

The DDA approved a preliminary agreement 15 months ago for developing the new sports and entertainment district around a new multi-purpose center that will be home to the Detroit Red Wings and programmed with other events throughout the year. The 785,000 sq. ft. center will seat 20,000 people.

Besides the $450 million arena, which will be home for the Detroit Red Wings, ODM is committed to investing, or causing to invest an additional $200 million in new residential, retail and office development in an approximately 45-block area that generally reaches from Grand Circus Park to Charlotte St. between Woodward Ave. and Grand River Ave. Overall, at least 56 percent of the total district development costs will be privately funded. The district is going to be an exciting place to be, as well as a great job creator for Detroiters and Detroit-based businesses.

“The DDA vote was an important next step in this public-private partnership that will create a world-class sports and entertainment district in Detroit,” said Christopher Ilitch, President and CEO of Ilitch Holdings. “This initiative will produce 8,300 construction and construction-related jobs, and deliver $1.8 billion in economic impact to our city, region and state. We appreciate the ongoing efforts of the DDA, MEDC and others toward the transformation of this key area in downtown Detroit.”

According to the plan, MSF will issue two series of 30-year bonds that total $450 million. The interest on the $250 million in Series A Bonds will be tax-exempt because a special DDA Tax Increment Tax capture of property taxes within the district will be used to retire them. The interest on the $200 million in Series B Bonds will be taxable because they will be paid off by an ODM affiliate under terms of the Concession and Management Agreement (CMA) it has with the DDA. Issuing two series of bonds for one project recognizes the difference in public and private contributions that will retire them.

Brian Holdwick
Executive Vice President, Business Development

Buyer Ready Business Profile: US Construction Restoration and Development Concept Group – Al Foster, CEO


US Construction Restoration and Development Concept Group is a family-owned business specializing in restoration, including fire repair, and environmental and hazmat consulting. The company was founded in 1940 in Alabama and is currently headquartered in Detroit. US Construction is also classified as a US Government Federal Inspector company. The organization’s culture is deeply rooted in education, training, mentoring and giving back to the city of Detroit.

We talked to company CEO, Al Foster.

What are some of your notable projects?

We really loved doing some projects around the city for Motor City Blight Busters; it’s so great to have a positive impact on the city. Another notable project we were involved in was Evergreen Estates, which included 400-500 units. We’ve also really enjoyed being city and government contractors on various projects throughout Detroit.

How do you want your company to impact Detroit in the long term?

Right now US Construction is doing a lot of education, training and mentoring in the city. We mentor veterans, returning citizens and youth. We provide skilled construction training in addition to soft skill mentoring that people may need assistance with. We go above and beyond by giving people the right tools to obtain a GED, get a job and much more.

Our end-goal is to create jobs here in the city of Detroit. We pride ourselves in collaborating with other Detroit-based businesses to make this happen.

What is the US Construction culture all about?

For some background, I was born and raised here in Detroit. I currently sit on about a dozen boards throughout the city from the M-1 Rail committee to task force boards for veterans and returning citizens, among others. This makes me, and my company very committed to improving the community in any way we can, and our company culture reflects that dedication.

Brian Watkins

Business Development Manager

Spotlight on two DEGC staff


Art Papapanos, vice president, Board Administration, and Brian Watkins, Business Development Manager, are in the spotlight this month.

Art recently received the Council of Development Financial Agencies (CDFA) Excellence Award for his role in the approval of 215 brownfield redevelopment plans for an anticipated investment in the city of Detroit in excess of $6.4 billion, creating approximately 19,500 jobs.

The CDFA is a national association dedicated to the advancement of development finance concerns and interests. It is comprised of the nation’s leading and most knowledgeable members of the development finance community, representing public, private and nonprofit entities.

“Each year CDFA is proud to honor excellence in development finance. The work of our award winners is cutting edge, innovative and an example of best practices in our industry,” said Toby Rittner, CDFA president and CEO.

Brian was recently selected to participate in Leadership Detroit XXXVI. Led by the Detroit Regional Chamber, it is designed to create awareness of key issues that affect the Detroit region and to challenge emerging and existing community leaders to bring about positive change in the community through informed leadership.

Leadership Detroit participants represent a cross-section of the community including business, organized labor, government, education, media, civic groups, health services and community organizations. There are more than 1,800 alumni of Leadership Detroit classes.

Congratulations Art and Brian!

Tiffini D. Smith

Director of Communications