Dear Mr. Lassiter:

Last Thursday (11/10/16) a gross misunderstanding of the W. Grand Boulevard Collaborative position on the Sweet Home preservation issue was evident at City Council by those who spoke for HFHS, and I am writing to restate the WGBC position, because those who spoke in support of HFHS made statements that were unrelated to the facts of anything put forth by WGBC, and this email is to rectify misrepresentations. Among those copied are City Council members, as they will be making the final decision on this matter, and the following facts should be taken into consideration:

1. WGBC is 100% in favor of the HFHS Cancer Center Development. Our aim is to enhance the project through a process that includes community input.

2. At the time WGBC filed for Local Historic Designation we did not know that HFHS had plans to demolish the Sweet Home buildings, one of which is a stone structure designed by George D. Mason, the Godfather of Architecture in Detroit , and both of which are on the National Register of Historic Places.

3. In 2010, WGBC asked HFHS, (Thomas Habitz, Meagan Dunn, and William Schramm) to share with their surrounding neighbors the proposed footprint of the Cancer Center , but each time we were told the footprint of the development could not be disclosed.

4. Several times since the churches were purchased in 2012, Thomas Habitz has stated that HFHS purchased the buildings to be reused and repurposed, and the word in our neighborhood was that they would be used for community benefit. Therefore WGBC was caught unawares when we filed for Local Historic Designation, and found that the churches were up for demolition. Back in 2010 when WGBC first asked about the footprint, we did so to initiate community input in support the development utilizing the expertise of WGBC professional consultants including the Detroit Studio LTU Department of Architecture. Back then, there would have been no added cost to create designs to preserve the churches and enhance the spill-out area to which Tom Habitz has referred.

5. WGBC commends HFHS for recently revealing the Cancer Center footprint and for askig City Council to postpone hearings regarding demolition to meet with the WGBC community to seek compromise regarding the churches. During that process, the architectural services of Lord Aeck Sargent, a firm that specializes in historic preservation, was secured by D4 on a pro bono basis on behalf of WGBC in the person of Kristen Nyht, who rendered viable options to demolishing the George D. Mason building.

6. One of the options drawn by Kristen Nyht was a mirror image of the current HFHS Cancer Center design that simply flips the design east to west thereby placing the skywalk on the east side of the building and avoids the necessity of demolishing the churches. With this Kristen Nyht design, the churches would be left in place for the uses for which HFHF originally purchased them.

7. Another option put forth by WGBC was to move the footprint east over the grassy “spill-out” area in the existing design, and use the grassy area next to the stone church for spill-out, and this area could be expanded if the brick church is demolished` – and the WGBC community is open to the compromise of demolishing the brick church building. An added benefit to this compromise would be that the stone church could be the focal point of a spill-out park space that would have the added benefit of being an indoor spill-out area for use in all weathers.

8. With demolition, these buildings will be forever lost, but we still have the opportunity of creating a win for HFHS, a win for Placemaking and Walkability, and an overall win for the City of Detroit .

Although skywalks in an area without surrounding tall buildings is an anathema to the principles and best practices of urban planning, walkability, and placemaking, the skywalk as proposed by HFHS is not the issue at hand and is not being addressed by WGBC. However, if the George D. Mason structure is demolished, the harm to our community and our City would be irreparable and compounded by the loss of our City’s chance for economic growth and stability other cities have achieved by capitalizing on local historic and architectural treasures – and the WGBC hopes that City Council will not sacrifice invaluable and irreplaceable historic and architectural assets upon which Detroit can build economic prosperity citywide to accommodate the desires of one developer.

Fortunately, City Council has access to expert resources to guide their decision, and in their hands we must rest our case.

Your time and attention are very much appreciated, and I thank you.


Mildred Hunt Robbins, President
West Grand Boulevard Collaborative (WGBC)
Chair, WGBC Community Coalition (WGBC3)
PO Box 2247 , Detroit , MI 48202
313/ 870-9244

Message from WGBC President, Mildred Hunt Robbins on the occasion of

Breakfast on the Boulevard, the WGBC Annual 11th Annual Event –  November 19, 2015.            

The  WGBC  Shared Economy

As an all-volunteer organization with no paid staff, the shared economy works

for the WGBC.  Gifts to our organization include:

     – An office at New Center Community Services with a phone line and computer;

Access to meeting rooms at Boulevard Temple and Duffield Branch Library;

Event venues at:

–  Boulevard Temple (who also serve in this capacity in 

addition to hosting many WGBC meetings weekly);

–  Communication Workers of America Local 4100;

–  Duffield Library (our information distribution center);

–  Laborers’ Union Local 1191;

–  Gamma Phi Delta Sorority National Headquarters; and,

–  The WGBC non-profit organizations, businesses, and

institutions that host our monthly meetings.

Sobriety House is a joint venturer in the WGBC-Sobo (coined by Kyle Sandefur, Esq.) employment initiative, and provides transport for WGBC projects, such as the local assets survey by LTU Detroit Studio, and for volunteers at community cleanups.  Sobriety House also hosts the special December monthly meeting;

Boulevard Marketplace donates refreshments and supplies for meetings and special occasions, and solicits discounted menu items from Papa’s Pizza for community cleanups and other WGBC functions;

Brazelton’s Florist donates flowers annually for Breakfast on the Boulevard, and other special events;

ECS Partnership-McDonald’s sponsored catering at our 2014 LOU press conference and provides refreshments for special events; and,

Many other members and friends who provide gifts and services provided that are too innumerable to list.

With appreciation, WGBC receives the generosity that is evidenced by silent-auction donations, and other in-kind gifts and services.  We are particularly indebted to Lawrence Technological University for their many services to the WGBC, including their recent application to the National Endowment for the Arts for a grant on our behalf (Joongsub Kim, Ph.D.).  It is our good fortune to have members and friends who are abundant in their sharing of their talents, creativity, human capital, monetary resources, professional expertise, and personal and professional networks to serve our community.

The willingness to share by the WGBC Advisory Board, members and friends, is the fuel that drives our engine in service to our Mission …to advance employment, entrepreneurship, culture and environmental health… in our community. The spark for the engine that generates our accomplishments is the cohesive triad of integrity, transparency, and commitment to equity, as we serve our West End Detroit neighborhoods: Northwestern Goldberg, LaSalle Gardens, & Virginia Park.


Click here to view a PDF of the Message from the President.

November 30, 2015

Mr. Keith Crain, Editor-in-Chief

Crain’s Detroit Business

Dear Mr. Crain:

Kirk Pinho did not represent journalism well in his (November 20, 2015) article about the Moneta Energy, LLC, redevelopment of Detroit’s Lee Plaza Residential Hotel.  Craig Sasser, Managing Member, made public the redevelopment plan  (November 19, 2015) at Breakfast on the Boulevard, the 11th Annual Event of the West Grand Boulevard Collaborative (WGBC), the group that organized the WGBC Community Coalition and signed a Letter of Understanding (May 16, 2014) with Henry Ford Health System and their development partners (Kirco Manix and Cardinal Health) for the Cardinal Warehouse on Rosa Parks (12th Street) just south of the Boulevard, having received multi-millions of public funds for the private business.  Without providing any facts about the qualifications, experience and resources of Moneta Energy, Pinho expects readers to accept his opinion and (that of an anonymous) “source of mine . . . that ground would never be broken . . .”   Based on my reading of the John Perkins book Hoodwinked . . . – hoodwinked fits perfectly the definition of what appears to have happened to Mr. Pinho, as evidenced by his Lee Plaza article.

With the recent Henry Ford Hospital announcement of their new Cancer Center about a mile away, and the Cardinal Warehouse even closer, one must consider the real reasons why Mr. Pinho is pushing the idea that the Lee Plaza area is not ready for investment.  Does he represent a cohort of developers who have their eyes on the Lee Plaza neighborhood as they march north and west from their downtown and university-cultural district strongholds?  Two years ago, Dr. John Popovich, President and CEO of Henry Ford Hospital, quoted the founder of the Ford Motor Company, Henry Ford the first who, according to Dr. Popovich, said “when Henry Ford Hospital is ready for a major expansion, it will have all the land it needs across the street” – and guess what, 100 years later, it has come to pass.  I was present on two occasions when Dr. Popovich quoted Henry Ford, and on both occasions I asked if Henry Ford was a clairvoyant, or if there are forces in place that insured his 100-year forecast.  On both occasions my question was dismissed as an attempt at humor, but my question remains a serious inquiry.  There is absolutely a story to be written about development in our community, but it will require the interest and talents of a real investigative reporter.

In the meantime, those of us who truly believe in the principles of a democratic economy are working – neighborhood by neighborhood – to build a strong and sustainable nation, in spite of negative messages delivered by people who write in the press, but don’t know, or perhaps don’t care, about upholding the standards of good journalism that are essential to a sustainable American democracy.

Very truly yours,

Mildred Hunt Robbins

Click here to view a PDF of the Letter to Editor.


  • New community partner Moneta Energy, LLC, makes public announcement of redevelopment of historic Detroit icon, the Lee Plaza Residential Hotel, at WGBC Annual Event, Breakfast on the Boulevard (Craig Sasser, Managing Member).
  • Herman Keifer Development, LLC, becomes new community partner with WGBC (Studio Castellano/Ron Castellano).
  • WGBC Workforce Pipeline for Job Seekers and Entrepreneurs partners with Southwest Economic Solutions.
  • After 18 months of Letter of Understanding (May 16, 2014) negotiations, Henry Ford Health System commits to providing Human Resources staff to present at WGBC Workforce Pipeline Workshops (the first having been conducted 11/4/15) to place attendees on a “pathway to employment at HFHS”.
  • Completed Phase II of Duffield Branch Library Mary and Albert H. Mallory Reading Garden (Jeffrey Klein, ASLA).
  • New Partnership with Herman Keifer Development, LLC, (Ron Castellano).
  • Pro bono legal services Dykema Law Firm & Ford Motor Company Office of Legal Counsel (Rochelle Lento, Esq., and Kyle Sandefur, Esq.)
  • Updated WGBC Bylaws and Articles of Incorporation.
  • Updated WGBC forms.
  • Registered WGBC logo and names.
  • Joint Venture Agreement between Sobriety House and WGBC.
  • Pro bono services of Harold Michael Stack, Ph.D., WSU professor and labor workplace consultant.
  • UAW Ford to secure building for West End Detroit Welcome Center or land for new construction (UAW Vice President James Settles).
  • Instituted WGBC Pipeline Workshops for Job Seekers and Entrepreneurs.
  • Ongoing negotiations with HFHS/Developers regarding Letter of Understanding signed in May, 2014.
  • HFHS HR present at WGBC Pipeline workshop, the first community benefit from HFHS since signing of Letter of Understanding (LOU) in May of 2014.
  • Partnered with National Conference of Artists Detroit Chapter, African Bead Museum, and Irwin Art Gallery to develop projects and programs for West End Detroit Welcome Center + Art & Culture Gallery.
  • LTU sponsored NEA Grant application on behalf of WGBC.
  • First annual Walk, Paddle and Roll Fundraiser in partnership with Freshwater Future.
  • Since 2009, continuing annual participation with Arise Detroit Neighborhoods Day.
  • Arise Detroit Angelo Henderson Community Servant Award presented to
  • Mildred and Tommie Robbins at Neighborhoods Day press conference.
  • Equitable Detroit Coalition Tech Town panel on Community Benefits Agreements (Mildred Robbins).
  • State-Wide Community Benefits Conference presenter (Mildred Robbins).
  • Freshwater Future Certificate of Recognition for “projects and efforts to… address climate change impacts and increase sustainability”.
  • Pro bono services of Kristine Miranne, Ph.D., Consultant to Non-Profit organizations.


  • WGBC Infrastructure Enhancement Project – Green Infrastructure Design (Jeffrey Klein, ASLA).
  • WGBC/WGBC3 signs Letter of Understanding (LOU) regarding Cardinal Warehouse complex with HFHS and development partners Cardinal Health and Kirco Manix.
  • Press conference for signing of LOU (Gamma Phi Delta Sorority House (Celestine Carter, Bertha Crossley, catering provided by ECS Partnership – McDonalds).
  • WGBC Pipeline for Job Seekers and Entrepreneurs partnered with Crossroads of Michigan employment services.
  • tPro bono legal service from Sugar Law Center for Economic and Social Justice (John Philo, Esq.)
  • Pro bono legal services from Perkins Law Group (Todd Perkins, Esq., Nikkiya Branch, Esq.)
  • Pro bono services from Kristine Miranne, Ph.D., Consultant to non-profit organizations.
  • Ongoing negotiations for community benefits with HFHS/Developers.
  • WGBC Pipeline for Job Seekers and Entrepreneurs partners with Detroit Public Library Department of Technology, Literacy and Careers.
  • LTU Department of Architecture Detroit Studio, community development consuls (Joongsub Kim, Ph.D.).
  • West End Welcome Center Design – Zero Energy (Terrence Samuels).


  • Mildred Hunt Robbins received a Quiet Heroes Award at the Annual Ford Freedom Award Ceremony honoring Congressman John R. Lewis, recipient of the 2013 Ford Freedom Scholar Award.
  • Duffield Reading Garden Design Phase III (Jeff Klein)
  • American Planning Association Conference in Chicago – Stormwater Management: A Community Perspective (Deborah Dorsey)
  • Healing Our Waters (HOW) Community Planning Workshops (Deborah Dorsey)
  • WGBC spearheads formation of the WGBC Community Coalition (WGBC3)
  • HFHS and partners Kirco Manix and Cardinal Health agree to negotiate for community benefits with WGBC/WGBC3.
  • Negotiations between HFHS/Developers (Kirco Manix and Cardinal Health) and WGBC/WGBC3 are convened.
  • WGBC Pipeline for Job Seekers and Entrepreneurs established.
  • WGBC-LTU Department of Architecture Detroit Studio field trip to O’Hare International Airport and Zero Energy Container Construction (David Robbins, Terrence Samuels).
  • Pro bono legal services of Sugar Law Center for Economic and Social Justice (John Philo).
  • LTU Department of Architecture Detroit Studio master planning for West End Detroit community.
  • Participated in Arise Detroit Neighborhoods Day.
  • Pro bono services from Vince Proctor Landscaping for landscape maintenance of Duffield Reading Garden.


  • BLAK Magazine interviewed Deborah Dorsey and Mildred Hunt Robbins for feature article on the Mary and Albert H. Mallory Reading Garden installed by the WGBC at the Duffield Branch Library.
  • First WGBC Advisory Board dinner meeting, Gamma Phi Delta Sorority House (Bertha Crossley).
  • SAFE Grant administered by Michigan Community Resources (Dalton Roberson, Jr.).
  • Purchased commercial-grade riding mower, push mower, and power and hand tools for WGBC Community Tool Shed.
  • Freshwater Future Grant for measuring volume of water diverted from stormwater system because of Duffield Reading Garden stormwater-diversion elements, and other designs and systems included in the Rain Garden installation.
  • WGBC volunteers participated in Angels’ Night patrols.
  • Rain barrel workshop conducted in collaboration with the Sierra Club at Duffield Reading Garden.
  • Campaigned successfully to appeal against the opening of a new liquor store.
  • Proposed Community Benefits Agreement (CBA) with developers, HFHS, Kirco Manix and Cardinal Health.
  • Spearheaded campaign to initiate CBA regarding HFHS/Kirco Manix/Cardinal Health warehouse project.
  • Organized coalition of Boulevard-area organizations, businesses and residents to seek CBA with HFHS/Developers.
  • NOF Grant funds reallocated to the Duffield Reading Garden project.


  • WGBC Advisory Board established.
  • Participated in LTU accreditation process (evaluation of community outreach Pprograms).
  • Phase I of the Mary and Albert H. Mallory, Sr., Reading Garden installed at Duffield Branch Library, MSU Department of Horticulture (Robert Schutzki, Ph.D.).
  • Established CASE Project (Clean and Safe Environment).
  • Received SAFE Grant administered by MCR (Dalton Roberson).
  • WGBC was fiduciary for Churchill Block Club SAFE Grant (Deborah Dorsey).
  • Purchased, installed and stocked community tool shed (CASE Program).
  • Freshwater Future Grant for Duffield rain garden (Jill Ryan, JD).
  • Vacant lots between Churchill Street and MLK, Jr., Park cleared of abandoned building materials and debris, General Services (Brad Dick, Tim Karl).
  • Completed Phase I of Mary & Albert H. Mallory, Jr., at Duffield Branch Library, MSU Department of Horticulture (Robert Schutzki), and WGBC volunteers.
  • WGBC presented at Healing Waters (HOW) Conference (Deborah Dorsey)
  • Duffield Reading Garden placed on Healing Waters tour schedule, Mildred Robbins (2 tours).
  • Duffield Reading Garden placed on Sierra Club’s tour schedule, Mildred Robbins (3 tours).
  • Duffield Reading Garden placed on Bioneers (Sierra Club) tour schedule, Mildred Robbins (1 tour).
  • Partnered with Sierra Club to conduct 2 rain barrel workshops at Duffield Reading Garden.
  • Presented at Green Task Force Round Table (Deborah Dorsey, Mildred Robbins).
  • Presented at Sierra Club Rain Garden Conference (Deborah Dorsey)
  • WGBC volunteers participated in Angels’ Night patrols.
  • MSU Department of Horticulture produced designs for Boulevard islands (Robert Schutzki, Ph.D.).
  • Comerica Grant for Duffield Reading Garden.
  • Pro bono website redesign (Roslyn Coleman).
  • Pro bono website management (James Witman).


  • Awarded Comerica Grant to defray cost of 2010 Annual Event (Louise Guyton).
  • Awarded Kresge Foundation Community Arts Grant for artwork in Phase I of Duffield Library Reading Garden.
  • LTU Department of Architecture produced Phase II Design Study & Conceptual Plan (Joongsub Kim, Ph.D., Detroit Studio).
  • MSU Department of Horticulture assumed leadership for design and installation of plant material for Duffield Library Reading Garden (Robert Schutzki, Ph.D.).
  • Dan Burden Walking Audit (walkability study) facilitated by Raquel Wilson and funded by Henry Ford Hospital.
  • Commissioned College for Creative Studies to produce artwork for Duffield Library Reading Garden (Vera Smith, Sioux Trujillo, Steve Schock, Graham Whyte).
  • Ferry-Morse Seed Company commits to partnership with WGBC to beautify Boulevard landscapes to commemorate the Ferry Seed Company’s residence and legacy in the WGBC community (Monika McCurdy).


  • Granted 501 (c) (3) status by the United States Internal Revenue Service.
  • LTU Dept. of Architecture produced Phase II Design Study (Joongsub Kim. Ph.D., Detroit Studio)
  • Awarded York Foundation Grant facilitated by Cole Home for Funerals (Antonio Green).
  • Ombudsman’s Newsletter recognizes WGBC for No Trash Left Behind initiative (Ombudsman Durene Brown)
  • Vacant overgrown lots mowed General Services/Forestry (Brad Dick).
  • Large debris removed from Boulevard lots and alleys, DPW (Alfred Jordan, Charles Harmon).
  • Lee Plaza Existing-Conditions Report produced by Christopher Heini, RA.
  • Alleys clear from Boulevard to Pallister and Churchill to Poe Streets, DPW (Alfred Jordan, Charles Harmon).
  • Small-debris cleanup on Boulevard between Lodge and Jeffries, General Services (Lee Stephenson).
  • WGBC joins Arise Detroit Neighborhoods Day. (Cleaned MLK Park and sponsored live entertainment and refreshments.)
  • Received CLR non-profit training (Leor Barak, Esq, Sarida Scott, Esq.)
  • Successfully advocated through appeal process at Board of Zoning Appeals for compliance with Mainstreet Overlay on Boulevard – unfortunately, the BZA reversed their decision on an irregular appeal in 2010, with strong objections by WGBC.
  • Continuing pro bono architectural services (Patti Hurst, RA, Christopher Heine, RA)
  • Annual Event venue provided by Tabernacle Missionary Baptist Church.


  • UD Mercy Department of Architecture produced Community Development Study (Professor Will Wittig).
  • Community Legal Resources secured attorneys for 501 (c) (3) application (Foley & Lardner).
  • Rosemarie and James Evenhuis seed grant for Mary & Albert H. Mallory Reading Garden.
  • Henry Ford Hospital matched seed grant toward cost of installation of Reading Garden.
  • No Trash Left Behind launched (Candy Collins-Adams Committee Chair) – name coined by HFHF President and CEO Anthony Armada.
  • Police support for No Trash Left Behind kick-off (13th Precinct, Sherese Fleming Freeman).
  • WGBC received Keep Detroit Beautiful Award (Councilmember Alberta Tinsley-Talabi).
  • WGBC hosted Motor City Makeover Kickoff in Martin Luther King, Jr., Park.
  • MLK, Jr., Park spring cleaning and bench painting with support of General Services (Brad Dick).
  • Detroit Public Library (DPL) and WGBC members donate to reading-garden installation with volunteer support from Habitat for Humanity and Sobriety House.
  • DPL Duffield Branch grounds prepared and plants purchased preliminary to Phase I installation of Reading Garden.
  • WGBC rallied support for restoration of Lee Plaza
  • Pro bono interior inspection of Lee Plaza (Christopher Heini, RA).


  • PBS Greenways Documentary, Pathways for People, features Mildred Robbins, Alex Wright/Oliver Thornton, producers.
  • First public Annual Event hosted by HFH (Anthony Armada, President/CEO, Candy Collins-Adams, Dir. Comm. Relations.)
  • First consultation with Community Legal Resources (now Michigan Community Resources), Leor Barak.
  • Established Tribute Award, Robert E.L.Parking DDS, MDS, first recipient.
  • Design standards developed by Tribute Award (Sue Sells).


  • WGBC Design Study produced WSU Dept. of Urban Studies and Planning under professorship of Constance Bodurow, Ph.D.
  • To date, Pattie Hurst, RA, continues to offer pro bono architectural services on an as-needed basis.


  • Granted not-for-profit status by State of Michigan.
  • Launched WGBC Newsletter (Sue Sells, Patti Hurst).


  • WGBC co-founded by Mildred Hunt Robbins & Tommie E. Robbins, Jr.
  • Logo designed and donated by Kari Lehman and Mildred Hunt Robbins.
  • Logo stamps produced and donated by DC Graphics (Denise Coklow).
  • Street lights restoration facilitated by Councilmember Joann Watson.
  • Open buildings boarded with intervention of Ombudsman Durene Brown.
  • Pro bono registered architectural services for WGBC projects (Patti Hurst and Christopher Heini).
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Thank You
WGBC wishes to thank its Supporting and Sustaining members:

Detroit Area Agency on Aging
Henry Ford Hospital

See a full list of our Member Organizations
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