- The University of Michigan announced plans to open a $300 million, 14-acre research and education campus in downtown Detroit. The Detroit Center for Innovation (DCI) will sit on a site that had been set aside for the scrapped Wayne County jail.
- The new center will anchor a multi-building development that will house high-tech research and education centers. The facility is expected to serve 1,000 graduate and upper-level undergraduate students focused on tech issues like mobility, artificial intelligence, sustainability, cybersecurity and others.
- The DCI build-out will also include an incubator space, start up services, a hotel, a conference center, event space and residential units, according to a press release from the City of Detroit.
The DCI site had originally been slated for the jail site, which was abandoned in 2013 due to cost overruns. Quicken Loans founder Dan Gilbert acquired the space in early 2018; Gilbert’s Bedrock Detroit real estate company will develop the site with Stephen Ross, chairman of Related Companies and a University of Michigan alumnus. It's the first time Ross will be directly involved in Detroit real estate.
In a statement, Mayor Mike Duggan said the new plan "sends a powerful message to our young people about the city we are trying to build together."
"Instead of turning this property into a place where Detroiters are taken to be incarcerated, we are going to build for them one of the finest learning centers anywhere, filled with hope and real opportunity," Duggan said.
The DCI development should help propel Detroit's tech industry, which has anchored many of the country's developing cities. It is in part inspired by Cornell University’s Cornell Tech campus on Roosevelt Island in New York City; Houston has also used the Station Houston incubator space downtown to anchor a downtown redevelopment.
Detroit is also seeing investment from Ford in the downtown Corktown neighborhood as the automaker seeks to build an autonomous and electric vehicle research campus based in the historic Michigan Central Station. It's unclear what role University of Michigan's autonomous vehicle research division will have at DCI in addition to its existing MCity campus (a university spokesperson said no plans had been decided for the site).
Ross, in an interview with Crain’s Detroit Business, said he wants the site to be free of association with specific automakers.