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 roughly bounded by West Grand Boulevard to the north, the 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 medical supply distribution facility for Cardinal Health, the Henry Ford Cancer Institute and the Brigitte Harris Cancer Pavilion, the Holden Block that includes Rebel Nell, York Project, Soft Goods Detroit, a $48-million medical laundry service facility (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 district is the Motown Museum.
“The vision for what will be two decades of work came about when we were looking around our neighborhood and saying we can’t have population health without economic health,” says Bob Riney, president of health care operations and COO of Henry Ford Health System. “I’ve been with Henry Ford for more than 40 years, and I remember when our employees lived in the area around the hospital and could walk to work.
“Since 2015, we created a long-term vision to restore housing, add housing, bring in new development, and create greenspaces. We currently own and maintain more than 200 properties and we demolished more than 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 the 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, SME, Lusn Law (governmental affairs), and more.
According to U.S. Census data, of the nearly 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 of the entire city is $27,800. Put more simply, 48.2 percent of the residents around the institution are living below the poverty level, as compared to 33.4 percent overall in Detroit.
To reverse the tide — the area saw a 31-percent drop in population since the 2010 census — Henry Ford Health System and its partners are building off their investments and forging new partnerships to accelerate a renaissance.
“We’re working with Michigan State University on a joint research institute (between 300,000 square feet and 400,000 square feet in size) that is deep into the design phase and we’re looking for an exact location,” says Riney. “It will house physicians and researchers working on translational research to improve population health. 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 will choose to live in the neighborhoods near the hospital, work in the area, and either walk to an employer, ride a bike, or take a short trip on public transit.
“We are focused on job creation, neighborhood inclusion, and environmental stewardship,” Riney says. “We even took limestone blocks that came from a demolished church and we’re using those to create border elements for a plaza and other public attributes.”
In addition, the hospital is working with the city to improve access to the district and better connect to other neighborhoods — Trumbull Street leads to Corktown, for example, where Ford Motor Co. and several partners are transforming the Michigan Central train station into a mobility innovation district.
“We have been working diligently with Henry Ford Health System and others to transform the North Goldberg neighborhood for over 12 years, and we have deep roots in bringing about improvements to that area,” says Andrew Housey, president of Premier Group Associates in Detroit. “We’ve removed more than 10 dangerous structures to clear the way for new development and worked to improve properties that can be saved.
“We commend Henry Ford Health System for their vision and hard work in bringing about positive change in the area. Their work, along with others like Ford Motor Co., are taking a holistic approach to redeveloping areas around the city. It’s a model other companies and organizations can use to improve neighborhoods.”
Several hundred jobs have already been created in North Goldberg, and Henry Ford and its partners plan to develop more projects that will boost employment opportunities.
In addition, new development is coming near the district, including an expansion of the Motown Museum and the redevelopment of Lee Plaza, a vacant tower at 2240 West Grand Boulevard that is being transformed into a $48-million affordable senior housing facility led by the city and two developers — The Roxbury Group and Ethos Development Partners.