The grant will support a $50 million project to transform the house where Berry Gordy founded the Motown Record Corp. nearly sixty years ago into a 50,000-square-foot entertainment and education destination featuring interactive exhibits, a performance theater, recording studios, retail shops, and meeting spaces. The project also will help revitalize the neighborhood, providing employment, sustainability, and community pride, according to the museum.
"This development is certainly going to deliver a world-class museum experience, but what is equally important for us is that it will generate economic development and investment in...this district," said Motown CEO and chair Robin Terry. She added that the foundation's gift, one of several to be announced in coming weeks, was particularly important because "this is our first major donation from the foundation community. We hope the William Davidson partnership inspires other local and national foundations to get involved in the mission."
"The resurgence of Detroit needs to move further away from the core and touch on more of the neighborhoods," Ethan Davidson, treasurer of the foundation established by his late father, told the Free Press. "Motown can act as an anchor to really redevelop that neighborhood." No less importantly, added Davidson, himself a musician, Detroit needs to embrace an international legacy that is uniquely its own. Recalling that his father had owned the Avalon and Linwood theaters down the street from Gordy's Hitsville U.S.A. house, Davidson said, "That's our old neighborhood going back a hundred years....We've always wanted to protect the assets of Detroit, and there's no better way to promote the assets of Detroit than to go around the world and say 'Motown'."
"Obviously the neighborhoods, a lot of them, still have a long way to go," Davidson added, "and until we can figure out how to transform some of those areas and let the people who have always lived in Detroit know how they're going to participate in this resurgence — and I'm talking equality of access to education, access to good jobs — we have work to do."