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Midtown Detroit, Inc.

3939 Woodward
Ste. 100
Detroit, Michigan 48201

Susan Mosey

By Amy Kuras
November 8, 2013

Plenty of people have has a hand in the revival of Midtown, but no name is more synonymous with the neighborhood than Sue Mosey's. As President of Midtown Detroit Inc., she literally gave it its name, rebranding it from its colorful Cass Corridor/Cultural Center past and ushering it into its sleek but still funky present.
The Midtown name would have been laughably optimistic without the groundwork Mosey laid: old factories renovated into swanky lofts, trashy streets replaced by planters full of flowers, and more cool new retail than you can shake a shopping bag at.
For Mosey, it was a matter of bringing out the potential the neighborhood had all along. She came to Midtown Detroit Inc., then known as the University Cultural Center Association, from a neighborhood planning post in Southwest Detroit. "I’d already gone to Wayne, and I’d always loved this particular part of city," she says. "There were assets we could work with that were under-leveraged and underdeveloped."
One of their first accomplishments, Mosey says, was to get almost the whole neighborhood onto the National Register of Historic Places, which allowed private developers to get access to financing and tax credits to make redevelopment projects viable – and make it more attractive to rehab old buildings rather than tear them down, preserving the character of the neighborhood.
Another early success was a loan pool, along with civic group Detroit Renaissance (now Business Leaders for Michigan), which allowed developers access to very low-interest loans for pre-development activities, which helped them get off the ground. "Those things were critical, as we’ve looked over the years at how many people have looked into credits and loans, and everybody sort of benefitted," Mosey says.
A few early successes that really set Midtown’s revival into motion was the renovation of the Albert Kahn-designed Garfield Lofts, and the popular Canfield Lofts, one of the first upscale loft condo developments in the city and the one that proved there was serious demand for loft buying in Midtown.
"I think what we always really valued here was the built environment," Mosey says, citing all the educational and cultural institutions clustered around Midtown’s core. The institutions have provided their own ingredients to the stone soup that has been the Midtown revival – everything from Wayne State developing dorms that brought thousands of resident students to the once almost all-commuter school, to CCS’s second campus in the Argonaut Building in the New Center area and Henry Ford Health System’s hiring of around 4,000 workers, most of whom are Detroit residents – along with the small, cool street-level retail that’s made Midtown a destination for shoppers. "We’ve become a jobs driver and opportunity driver," Mosey says.
Since those early successes, Midtown Detroit has had a hand in almost every good thing happening in their neighborhood, from vibrant festivals like DLectricty and Noel Night to facade improvements for area businesses and community projects like the Inn at Ferry Street, as well as continuing to develop big-name projects like the Auburn.
In many ways, Midtown is helping to change the doomsday story of Detroit so beloved by national parachute journalists. For example, Mosey says, law firms now find their young hires want to be stationed downtown instead of in the suburbs, a total reversal from a decade ago.
"We’re a counter-narrative to the doom and gloom stories," Mosey says. "There’s a lot  of significant investment happening here."

All photos by Doug Coombe. 

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