Skip to content

Kresge president signals 6 areas of future investment in Detroit


The Kresge Foundation will invest in large-scale Detroit projects that convert blighted land into “mixed-use, mixed-income, amenity-rich neighborhoods of opportunity,” foundation President and CEO Rip Rapson announced Thursday at the Mackinac Policy Conference of the Detroit Regional Chamber of Commerce.

Rapson told the annual gathering of leaders from across the state that Kresge and the community are “poised to move past a time when blighted buildings were insidiously consuming our landscape.” He cited the Orleans Landing Project in the city’s Riverfront area, the residential and commercial components of a new Red Wings arena and Rock Ventures’ investment in Brush Park as examples of such conversions being spearheaded by others.

Rapson’s speech also outlined five other areas of future Kresge investments in Detroit:

  • A growing critical mass of smaller, edgier, innovative uses of underutilized land, including using natural systems to manage stormwater runoff, reclaiming blighted housing for arts and cultural activities and strengthening community and commercial urban farming.
  • A seamless regional transit system catalyzed by M-1 Rail, which will connect the city’s downtown, Midtown, New Center and North End.
  • An accountable, comprehensive and effective early childhood development system to ensure that kids enter kindergarten ready to learn – developmentally, emotionally, academically.
  • Detroit’s small-business and entrepreneurial community, while reinforcing and amplifying the burgeoning energies evident in the city, including artist enclaves in Corktown and pop-up retail at Livernois Avenue and McNichols Road.
  • New financial tools to help accelerate the return of viable residential and commercial lending markets in the city, such as instruments that peel away the first layer of risk to enable commercial lenders to participate in development deals or help more people to get into homes and improve those homes once they’re there.

Rapson’s speech preceded a panel discussion on Detroit’s emergence from bankruptcy last November. The panel was composed of former Emergency Manager Kevyn Orr; the federal judge and now-retired federal judge who oversaw the bankruptcy, Gerald Rosen and Stephen Rhodes; and Ford Foundation President Darren Walker. It was moderated by Mariam C. Noland, president of the Community Foundation for Southeast Michigan.

“They navigated us from a time that many view as the city’s death knell to a position of stability and coherence, equipped with tools to reinvent and rebuild,” Rapson said. “But we risk all that unraveling unless we can fundamentally reset Detroit’s long-term trajectory.”

Read the full speech.

Visit the Mackinac Policy Conference website.