Dr. Matt Ott, an internal medicine resident at the Detroit Medical Center, lives in Royal Oak now, but said Thursday that he may be moving soon into Detroit's Midtown district.
The reason? Three major anchor institutions -- Wayne State University, the DMC and Henry Ford Health System -- announced a program Thursday that would give cash incentives to their employees to move into Midtown.
Up to 30,000 workers potentially could take advantage of the incentives, which are aimed at boosting Detroit's population and economic life. Midtown is the area between downtown and New Center, home to the major institutions as well as a growing roster of restaurants, shops and residential developments.
For Ott, 29, the attractions of moving to Midtown are many.
"The idea would be to live closer to work, closer to church, and just invest in the community," he said.
The incentives reflect a broader effort under way in many cities for powerful institutions to do more for their communities than operate as islands unto themselves.
MONEY TO MOVE IN
For many years, major institutions like Wayne State University and Detroit Medical Center thought they were helping Detroit simply by doing business in the city.
Now, though, major anchor institutions in Detroit and across the nation are trying to become better neighbors to their host cities. They're promoting small-business development by buying from local suppliers and bankrolling redevelopment projects in the local neighborhood.
On Thursday, Wayne State, DMC and Henry Ford Health System announced another such program, offering generous cash incentives for their employees to move into the surrounding Midtown district of Detroit.
The incentives will include a $2,500 allowance for new renters toward the cost of their apartment in the first year followed by an additional funding of $1,000 for the second year; a $1,000 allowance for existing renters who are renewing a lease in 2011 and a $20,000 forgivable loan toward the purchase of a primary residence, and a $5,000 in exterior home improvement matching funds for projects of $10,000 or more for existing homeowners.
The "Live Midtown" incentive program announced Thursday is designed to boost the population of the district and thereby create more incentives for retailers and other commercial users to move there, too.
The program should help boost real estate values in Midtown by taking excess available properties off the market, said Austin Black II, a Realtor and owner of the City Living Detroit real estate firm. And he saw another advantage, too. "It will get the institutions more involved in redeveloping the neighborhood outside their walls," he said.
Susan Mosey, president of the University Cultural Center Association, who will be administering the program, agreed. "These anchor institutions are a very critical piece of that puzzle and have stepped up to take the lead in improving the quality of life for their employees and Midtown as a whole," she said.
The three institutions will each invest in the program and their money will be matched by donations from the Hudson-Webber Foundation and the Michigan State Housing Development Authority (MSHDA). The Kresge Foundation also intends to provide additional support for the pilot program. Total first-year funding will be $1.2 million.
The incentives are only available to employees of the three institutions. To qualify, the housing units must be in an area bounded by Philadelphia Street on the north, I-75 on the east, Mack/M.L. King on the south, Grand River on the southwest and Rosa Parks on the west.
For more information, employees of the institutions should contact their human relations offices or visit www.livemidtown.org .
Contact John Gallagher: 313-222-5173 orgallagher99 @freepress.com