Frey Funds Detroit Project

April 7, 2005
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GRAND RAPIDS — The Frey Foundation is pitching in to revitalize the riverfront in downtown Detroit.

Foundation officials will announce today that they have awarded a grant of $100,000 to the Detroit RiverFront Conservancy, a nonprofit organization that wants to build a five-mile riverfront pathway along the Detroit River.

The path proposed by DRFC will stretch from the Belle Isle Bridge to the Ambassador Bridge.

“The board enthusiastically endorses this exception to our West Michigan focus because of the enormous positive impacts this ambitious development will have on the environment, the economy, education and the quality of life in the largest city in the state of Michigan,” said David Frey, Frey Foundation chairman.

“The Frey Foundation has a long history of supporting programs that embrace our urban centers, creating vibrant and economically attractive cities while minimizing urban sprawl,” he added.

The DRFC sees the project as having the capability to create a new neighborhood along the riverfront, to revitalize nearby communities, and to provide some new recreational, cultural and economic opportunities.

“We are honored and pleased with the Frey Foundation grant. It is this kind of support from our neighbors on the west side of the state that will make this enormous project a reality,” said Faye Nelson, DRFC president and CEO.

DRFC reported that it has raised nearly $80 million for the project in its first phase of fundraising in 2004. With the second stage underway this year, Nelson felt her organization would reach its $110 million goal.

That money will be used to construct and operate the east RiverWalk and to create an endowment to maintain the riverwalk into perpetuity.

“The health and vitality of the city of Detroit are extremely important to the entire state of Michigan. The generous investments being made in the Detroit RiverWalk project will have a positive impact throughout the region and the state,” said C. David Campbell, DRFC board member.

Initially, the DRFC approached the Frey Foundation for a $25,000 grant. As a gesture of goodwill, the local organization quadrupled its gift.

“We commend the individuals and organizations that have ably and generously led and funded this visionary project, and we are honored to lend our support,” said Frey.

The Kellogg Foundation is the only other West Michigan organization that has provided financial support for the Detroit project.    

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