With a theme of “development finance solutions for every community”, the Council of Development Finance Agencies (CDFA) chose the right community, Detroit, in which to have a broad range of topics for attendees to listen, learn and integrate into their profession. This conference was made possible by sponsors of the day long event, including Annual Roundtable Sponsor Detroit Economic Growth Corporation, CDFA Scholarship Program Sponsor The PFM Group and media sponsor, GreeningDetroit.com
The purpose of these annual conferences is to further collaboration amongst the best and brightest professionals, developers and community resources interested in making sustainable development that become best practices for other communities to implement in improving their own neighborhoods, towns, cities and counties. The sharing of such information is key for those apt to try a new method or program that has worked elsewhere.
This conference covers a lot of ground in one short day. Awards are presented to the best agency and this year CDFA chose Develop Michigan, an organization comprised of a partnership between the State of Michigan, Great Lakes Capital Fund and the Development Finance Group. Similarly, this year’s CDFA Project Excellence winner was awarded to the developers of the The David Whitney Building for their $92 Million redevelopment historic renovation into a boutique hotel, residences, meeting/banquet space as well as a high end restaurant. The redevelopment of the Whitney building was a joint venture of Detroit’s Roxbury Development Group and Trans Inns Management.
All of the days’ speakers did a wonderful job of framing the importance of financing public-good projects that strengthen communities, provide additional resources and showcase best practices of worthy projects for community investment. David Howell, Director of Real Estate & Financial Services for the City Of Detroit said it best when he commented that now is not the time to take the subsidy away but to double down and ensure the redevelopment momentum continues for the City of Detroit, and not just with Downtown or Midtown projects, but projects throughout the neighborhoods. Melinda Clemmons, Sr. Loan Officer at Capital Impact Partners, spoke on the Growing Investment in Local Food Systems in order to sustain a healthy economy and provide communities healthy food choices. Ms. Clemmons remarked how the same system set up for redevelopment of buildings is beginning to address the “food desert issue” in the city of Detroit and elsewhere around the state. This public-private partnership for the access of healthy food is being supported by The Michigan Good Food Fund.
Bill Roche, Senior Vice President of Hutchinson, Shockey, Erley & Co. provided an illuminating perspective on utilizing public-private partnerships in Michigan and how the industry has vastly changed from his early days in public financing. Today, public-private partnerships can be used not only for waste treatment plants, jails and courthouses, but also for public school expansions or other buildings or entertainment venues that improve the entire community or city.
The last two sessions centered on the redevelopment case study of the The David Whitney Building and Financing of the new Detroit Red Wings Stadium in Detroit.
Mr. James Van Dyke, VP of Development and David Di Rita, Owner of The Roxbury Group provided a well prepared summary on the objectives, challenges and ultimate success of redeveloping one of Detroit’s first skyscrapers. The visuals of the building both before and after redevelopment were startling. This case study reveals that if so many challenges can be overcome with a building such as The Whitney, most if not all of Detroit’s aged building stock can have a “second life”.
Craig Hammond, Esq. from Dickinson Wright PLLC and Mark Morante, SVP of Community Development for the MEDC along with Art Papapanos outlined the complex financial structure of the Detroit Events Center, whose structural steel is just going up this Fall. It was interesting to learn how the future home of the NHL’s
Detroit Red Wings $450 Million Arena was structured utilizing multiple financing tools and is the cornerstone of an entire entertainment district renaissance.
With both morning and afternoon sessions, a wonderful lunch and key financing tools and networking conversations from attendees, there is no doubt “Michigan Development Finance Solutions for Every Community” of the 2015 CDFA Michigan Financing Roundtable Conference was a resounding success and participants will be anticipating further financing tools and best practices at the conference next year.
ROBERT E. MATTLER, Attorney and LEED AP BD+C, is Market Director for PACE-Equity, Michigan. He speaks and writes about emerging green real estate and development issues in Michigan and elsewhere. Bob is also the senior news correspondent for www.greeningdetroit.com. For more information, contact Bob at PACE-Equity, (248) 762-4370; or by e-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org