With notable community support, Detroit City Council OKs community benefits package for Tom Gores-backed $3 billion mixed-use development 

March 4, 2024 | Articles News The Pistons

With notable community support, Detroit City Council OKs community benefits package for Tom Gores-backed $3 billion mixed-use development 

With diverse voices expressing staunch support, the Detroit City Council recently approved a community benefits package and tax incentives to assist the $3 billion development spearheaded by the historic partnership of the Detroit Pistons and team owner Tom Gores, Henry Ford Health and Michigan State University. 

Known as the Future of Health, the project aims to transform Detroit’s New Center neighborhood
(located just north of downtown) into a vibrant, walkable community with state-of-the-art residential,
commercial, retail, recreational and health care components.

The development will be anchored by a reimagined Henry Ford Health academic healthcare campus,
which includes a major expansion of Henry Ford Hospital and a premier academic research center in
partnership with MSU. More than 600 residential housing units, which includes additions to Detroit’s
affordable housing inventory, is a major part of the development.

The plan is also a significant expansion of the partnership between Henry Ford Health and Gores and the Pistons, who partnered on a $137 million facility in 2019 that relocated the Pistons franchise back to Detroit and into the Henry Ford-Detroit Pistons Performance Center and Center for Athletic Medicine.

In accordance with the Community Benefits Ordinance, a proposed package of tax abatements and
incentives for the project required City Council approval. While there was some opposition to the
incentives request, the project has garnered significant support from local officials, community leaders
and Detroit citizens. During the public comment period, the majority of roughly 200 commenters voiced
support for the project. The city council approved the package in a 6-3 vote. 

City Council President Mary Sheffield, who represents District 5, is a strong proponent. 

“The Detroit Pistons are here to better our city, (although) I may be a bit biased coming from a family of
health care service providers and this project being in District 5,” she said Tuesday. “Although no deal is
perfect, I am supportive of the project today mainly because of the No. 1 rehabilitation center in the
country that will be housed here and what this is going to do for the working class in Detroit.”
A joint statement was released following the vote. 

“Today’s approvals lay the groundwork to execute the reimagination of our shared campus, creating
meaningful economic opportunity and redefining what health and well-being means for the City of
Detroit,” the development partners said. “We appreciate our engagement with members of City Council,
Mayor Duggan and his team, and the committed impact-area residents of the Neighborhood Advisory
Committee for understanding the importance of this vision and working together to deliver a
community benefits package that will enhance our shared neighborhood and the broader city we
The benefits package decided by the Neighborhood Advisory Committee was revised for council
approval to include additional commitments – a $2 million donation to the city’s Affordable Housing Development and Preservation Fund; $1 million for a new community land trust and a commitment to
help coordinate transportation services for seniors. 

In addition, the benefits agreement includes 50 tuition-free scholarships to Michigan State University to
qualifying seniors at neighboring high schools Detroit University Prep and Detroit Northwestern – one
from each school over a period of 10 years. There was also a $750,000 commitment to provide
additional support to those students attending MSU. 

Pistons Vice Chairman Arn Tellem said the seeds for the development were planted when Gores, the
CEO and founder of Platinum Equity, decided to return the franchise to downtown Detroit in 2017.
“Our move wasn’t just about playing games at Little Caesars Arena,” Tellem said in his appeal to council. “We made much more than a gameday commitment. It was about planting our flag here in Detroit and in our New Center neighborhood. It was about moving all of our 300-plus employees here and making this our home, becoming embedded in this community. We committed to being all in on Detroit and to contribute to the city’s ongoing revitalization.” 

The incentives package is expected to give the developers $287 million in tax reimbursements and
abatements over the next 35 years supporting deeply affordable housing components of the project, the
Henry Ford-Michigan State Research Center and expanded parking.

With Tuesday’s approval, the development still requires state-level approval in April for its
transformational brownfield” plan, which allows large-scale developers to capture certain Michigan
taxes over decades, before it breaks ground.
Throughout the process, which included multiple meetings with the council, the Neighborhood Advisory
Committee, and community leaders, many voiced or wrote letters to support the project.
Here is a sampling of what was said or written: 

“As a resident of District 5, I am excited for the new development happening in my district,” Detroit
resident Melisa Taylor wrote. “This health development project can benefit residents by improving
access to healthcare services, enhancing overall well-being, and potentially boosting productivity.”
“The benefits of an expanded hospital campus and research center are well suited to support and
advance the health priorities of the community,” District 5 resident and Virginia Park representative
Jody Wise wrote. “It is for that reason, that I write to support their transformational brownfield plan
related to the project’s east campus development. I am grateful to be able to collaborate with three
organizations that are dedicated to ensuring residents have viable channels to contribute their input to
this process.” Specifically in Virginia Park, the project team has actively participated in and facilitated
numerous community meetings, organized project site bus tours, and consistently provided updates to
our community.” 

“This hospital expansion, with an emergency department planned to double the size of the existing one,
affordable housing, and a brand-new research building in conjunction with Michigan State University,
will not only be a community asset to Detroit but will serve as a destination for residents throughout our
State and beyond,” wrote state legislators Erika Geiss and Mike McFall.

 “I have a true dedication to support Projects that help revitalize the community, specifically District 5 in
Detroit. I’ve attended multiple community presentations on the Project and each update has helped me
further understand the Developers commitment to Detroit,” District 5 resident Gabrielle Parker wrote.
“Anytime there are conversations and actions that support a healthier and vibrant Detroit, I’m in favor.
As this project moves forward, I’m thrilled to see inclusion with residents and the career pathways
because of this Development.”

“I understand the development team is seeking approval of a transformational brownfield plan and tax
abatements in order for the project to be financially feasible. By receiving tax abatements, the
developer will be able to successfully revitalize this important portion of our neighborhood and provide
housing with a variety of rents, including affordable rental opportunities,” Detroit resident Jamila Albert
said. “I appreciate the developer’s community outreach during this process, and I have had the chance
to meet with members of the development team on multiple occasions. The development will provide
housing, jobs and commercial/recreational opportunities that do not exist there today.”

“As a health enthusiast and Detroit native, we know from my lived experiences, that Detroiters face
major challenges related to health outcomes and access to care,” WeRun313 co-founder Lance Woods
wrote. “The hospital expansion and research center are two critical investments aimed at improving the
health of Detroit residents. On a personal note, I grew up in the neighborhood and an Alumnus of
Northwestern High School, so I know how important it is to create career pathway opportunities for
Detroit’s youth. This project is poised to expose youth to career opportunities in healthcare, building
future hospital leaders, doctors, nurses, and more.” 

“This is a beacon of hope for that neighborhood and something that shows our city is ready to move
forward,” Council member Fred Durhal III said. “This will bring 2,000 construction jobs and 700
permanent jobs. The CBO was not perfect, but not all nine members sitting here have always agreed. I’m glad to support this project because we need more developers who are willing to work with our city. However, we will be working to ensure these promises are followed through.”

“This is a huge opportunity for our region, our city and our residents to ensure our elderly and our
children are able to be taken care of if another pandemic comes or any other crisis happens in this great
city,” Detroit resident Bill Meyer said. “I urge this body to approve this whole project to make sure it
goes through.” 

“I’m in support of this transformational project for the New Center area,” District 4 resident Tatiana
said. “I understand and respect the needs of those in the surrounding neighborhood
and I’m confident that the Detroit Pistons will fulfill the terms of the CBO. I have seen this happen
personally and professionally with the Detroit Pistons team of the past and the future. This proposed
development is Detroit’s opportunity for new state-of-the-art hospital care, medical research, housing,
retail and green space. We deserve this.” 

“As someone who had the privilege of taking on the responsibility of being a caregiver for my
grandmother and mother, I see this as a critical moment for Detroit to secure and ensure a state-of-the-
art hospital and emergency health care facility along with important medical research that will address
chronic medical issues and diseases that affect our population,” former NBA star and JRLA co-founder
Jalen Rose wrote. “Residents of our city deserve these significant resources and should not need to
travel outside Detroit to receive this type of care. This development adds investment beyond downtown, increases safety for the community, expands available units of affordable housing, creates jobs and will bring new life to the New Center area.” 

“I support the Future of Health development,” former Pistons player Lindsey Hunter said. “I think
adding new housing, a larger hospital and medical research center is huge for our city. They are already
in the neighborhood of creating new opportunities and being a 12-year veteran of the Detroit Pistons,
I’ve been a part of many things in that the community, and I know Pistons that will always keep their

“I’ve come today to show support of the Future of Health project and its transformational benefits,”
Detroit Urban League member Delores Flagg said. “This project supports tomorrow’s healthcare
advances and drives economic growth. We know how important it is to sustain economic growth and
inclusion. Additionally, it provides new opportunities to work, live, and play. The Future of Health
project will put Detroit amongst national leaders when it comes to safety and healthcare.”

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