Organization History

The unique character and resources of Midtown Detroit inspired the leaders of WSU, the College for Creative Studies, the DIA and the Engineering Society of Detroit to form the University Cultural Center Association (UCCA) in 1976. UCCA is now doing business as Midtown Detroit, Inc. (MDI) after merging with New Center Council, Inc.

In the first decade, activities focused on special events, planning and development, transportation and public awareness campaigns. In 1987, as a result of an internal review of UCCA/MDI's mission and organization, the board expanded its membership, restructured the Board of Directors, established a progressive dues structure and provided greater resources to initiate new, expanded projects.

In 1995, the UCCA/MDI Board embraced a strategic plan that speaks to the area's growth and corresponding needs. Priorities identified included support for planning and expansion of parking capacity; maintaining the area collectively through essential services and beautification programs; collaborating with members, the police department and public safety to ensure a safe district; and creating an area-wide directional signage program.

Since 2000, UCCA/MDI has raised over $80M for a variety of initiatives. While all are important, some of the most notable include the restoration and conversion of six historic homes into a boutique hotel; the development of the Midtown Loop – a greenway trail; the Woodward Avenue Streetscape Enhancement project; the creation of the Sugar Hill Arts District; the construction of two community gardens; and the renovation of over 40 commercial facades throughout the district. UCCA/MDI has also facilitated funding for over 40 residential developments resulting in over 1,000 new units of housing and has assisted over 30 local businesses with technical assistance and financing.

In early 2008, UCCA/MDI assembled a stakeholder group including professional security officers, residents and area businesses and institutions to develop strategies to enhance safety in the Midtown neighborhood. As a result, a system of information sharing, contractual private security services, "club" programs for students and employees, and lighting improvements have all been implemented for the Midtown district. In 2010, UCCA/MDI launched a Security Matching Grant program for small businesses, apartment complexes and institutions. UCCA/MDI also received support for the WSU Police Department to purchase equipment and hire additional personnel for a Mobile Video Surveillance system in the Midtown neighborhood.

Most recently, MDI has begun to implement a number of new anchor institution initiatives such as the "Live Midtown", "Live Downtown", and the "Buy Detroit" programs. To date, over 1,456employees have been approved for the residential incentive program and our anchor institutions have begun to purchase various products and services from a number of local businesses in the areas of food, waste management and recycling, and facilities maintenance.

To market the district MDI has developed a comprehensive campaign which advertises housing options; promotes local cultural events; connects people to Midtown museums, theatres, galleries, restaurants, and retail stores; and is expressed in MDI's three signature art events – Art X Detroit, DLECTRICITY, and Noel Night. These initiatives have proven successful and continue to attract new residents and visitors to area.

In 2010, the City of Detroit was selected to participate in the Living Cities Integration Initiative, with UCCA/MDI as the lead applicant. Through the Integration Initiative, Detroit is eligible for up to $22m in grants, commercial loans and Program-Related Investments (PRIs) to support its efforts. This funding will support our work to stabilize neighborhoods in Midtown and the North End Neighborhood (an adjacent residential community) through blight reduction and productive re-use of land and buildings.

In early 2011, UCCA merged with New Center Council (NCC) and formally began doing work as Midtown Detroit, Inc (MDI). The organization has expanded its staff and geographic footprint, increased its real estate investment activities and is implementing additional programs. This new footprint incorporates TechTown and the New Center area which will allow the organization to work more closely with HFHS, University Preparatory Schools, the College for Creative Studies, TechTown and many other anchors.

Today, MDI has over 150 members representing the area's cultural, academic, medical and service institutions, corporations, businesses and community organizations. Over 300 representatives from member organizations actively participate in MDI activities through committees, which include Public Space Development and Maintenance, Community and Economic Development, Security, Marketing, and Special Events. These committees have been responsible for the completion and/or operation of over 40 programs and projects in the Midtown district.