Detroit's Angel Foundation Reconsiders Support

The well-heeled foundation that's been pumping money into civic projects in Detroit is now reconsidering the role it's playing and how much it wants to contribute.
July 9, 2011, 5am PDT | Nate Berg
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"'Philanthropy has emerged as the sector best able to provide the long-term vision and shorter-term investment of capital the city needs to right itself,' Mr. Rapson said at a private gathering of urban experts in Detroit this spring.

That foundation-knows-best attitude exasperates Mayor Dave Bing and City Hall officials, who have sought to reassure Detroiters that their voices, not outsiders, will guide efforts to rebuild the city.

'Everyone talks about Kresge, Kresge, Kresge,' the mayor said in an interview. 'We're pleased with the support we're getting from them, but... Kresge is not doing this in a vacuum by themselves.'

Mr. Rapson dived head-first into city politics last year when Kresge agreed to fund Detroit Works, Mr. Bing's signature campaign to consolidate the city's shrinking population into healthy neighborhoods and re-purpose vast tracts of vacant land. Kresge also put up $35 million to spark development of "M1," a light-rail transit line down Woodward Avenue, the spine of the city."

But now the funding for those projects is uncertain, as Kresge re-evaluates their merit and its own willingness to cooperate with the city's leadership.

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Published on Saturday, July 2, 2011 in The Wall Street Journal
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