University of Michigan approves US$250 mn for Detroit Innovation center

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Despite reservations from several regents, the University of Michigan Board of Regents decided Thursday to permit the commencement of construction of a $250 million innovation and education center in Detroit.

In March, UM announced its commitment to the UM Centre for Innovation. It is partly funded with $100 million from real estate tycoon Stephen Ross. Additionally,  $100 million in state tax revenues, and $50 million from donations.

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Olympia Development, a firm controlled by the Ilitch family, is donating to the University of Michigan the 4-acre Detroit site. It is surrounded by Cass and Grand River avenues, as well as West Columbia and Elizabeth streets. Olympia will also sell UM an adjacent 1.8 acre plot for $9.5 million to build a parking garage.

The project received $100 million in funding from lawmakers in the July 2022 budget. Commencement is scheduled for before the end of the year and is projected to take three years. According to UM Provost Laurie McCauley, the academic programmes at UMCI will include degrees in robotics and electrical engineering. Furthermore, urban technology and sustainability, and just transitions. Programming, data science, entrepreneurship, and sustainability will be among the non-credit programmes.

More on the Detroit innovation center project

The UMCI will be the first of three buildings to be built on the site, according to Geoffrey Chatas, UM executive vice president and CFO. Olympia and affiliated enterprises proposing to build residential and incubator buildings later. It is part of a larger vision: the $1.5 billion redevelopment of District Detroit, a joint effort between Ross and the Ilitch family. It is a mixed income and mixed use development that will feature the construction of six buildings as well as the refurbishment of four.

The Downtown Development Authority board of directors authorised almost $50 million in funding for District Detroit in January. This is the first of five public incentive proposals totaling over $800 million.