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 A rendering illustrates what Henry Ford Health System’s medical outpatient center will look like once it is completed this year. On Jan. 27, the city approved a 10-year, $500,000 sponsorship agreement with the hospital for the new downtown park.

A rendering illustrates what Henry Ford Health System’s medical outpatient center will look like once it is completed this year. On Jan. 27, the city approved a 10-year, $500,000 sponsorship agreement with the hospital for the new downtown park.

Rendering provided by the city of Royal Oak

Henry Ford secures major sponsorship of downtown park

By: Sarah Wojcik | Royal Oak Review | Published February 5, 2020


ROYAL OAK — In a 6-1 vote Jan. 27, the Royal Oak City Commission approved a 10-year, $500,000 sponsorship agreement with Henry Ford Health System for the new downtown park.

The 2-acre downtown park will be located where the current City Hall and Police Department now stand, near Third and Troy streets, and will function essentially as the front lawn of the hospital’s new six-story medical outpatient center.

Per the agreement, Henry Ford Health System will be the original and primary sponsor of the park when the first phase of the downtown park is completed. Each year of the agreement, Henry Ford Health System will donate $50,000 to the city for maintenance and development of the park.

City Attorney and Interim City Manager David Gillam said the city may enter into agreements with other sponsors, but the contract specifically mandates that no other medical facility be granted any sponsorship or naming rights.

Gillam said Henry Ford Health System reached out to the city of Royal Oak to discuss becoming a sponsor shortly after it reached an agreement to occupy the six-story office building developed by the Lansing-based Boji Group.

“These discussions have gone on for a fairly long period of time,” Gillam said. “The money would be going to just the downtown park. The city is not free to spend it anywhere else.”

Gillam said part of the agreement specifies that the park sign would prominently feature the name of the hospital.

If the city acquires lesser sponsorships, Gillam said any signage or publicity materials regarding the park would display the Henry Ford Health System name or logo a little larger.

“In terms of any information we have on the website about activities and events at the park, (Henry Ford Health System) would be identified as the major sponsor of the park,” he said. “There’s a commitment from both parties at the end of 10 years to sit down and talk about a potential extension on the agreement.”

If both parties are unable to agree on the terms of the extension, Royal Oak may enter into a tentative agreement for primary park sponsorship with a third party, but Henry Ford Health System will have the right of first refusal for sponsorship under the terms of the tentative agreement.

Commissioner Melanie Macey cast the single “no” vote. She questioned the value to the city of locking in the sponsorship with Henry Ford Health System now rather than waiting to see what other offers might come in.

“This is a pretty park in a prime location,” Macey said. “We have another (medical facility) here in Royal Oak that I’m sure Henry Ford is very happy to be boxing out of this.”

Gillam said the city is free to explore other sponsorship opportunities and that staff considered putting the matter out to bid, but “candidly, they’re putting half a million dollars on the table.” He added that the need for funds is greater now in order to develop the park.

Commissioner Kyle DuBuc said $500,000 is “real money” and he would rather not gamble with putting the matter out to bid. Similarly, Mayor Pro Tem Sharlan Douglas said, “A bird in the hand is worth two in the arborvitae.”

Commissioner Patricia Paruch said the first $50,000 will come in April 1, before the park is even built. She said the funds will be helpful in financing amenities not included in phase one of the park — namely restrooms.

Mayor Michael Fournier said he thought the agreement was “fair” and that Henry Ford Health System is known for its philanthropic and health-based work throughout the community.

Henry Ford Health System is leasing the 145,000-square-foot building that is currently under construction in what used to be the Royal Oak City Hall parking lot. It is expected to be completed this year; employ more than 200 people, including physicians, nurses and support staff; and draw thousands to Royal Oak.

Services at the medical center include women’s health, pediatrics, sports medicine, rehabilitation, radiology, primary care and outpatient surgery. The first floor will house a walk-in clinic, retail eye care services, a retail pharmacy and a café.

John Truscott, CEO of public relations firm Truscott Rossman, said the cost of the building, including Henry Ford equipment and upgrades, is approximately $78 million.

The building is part of the city’s civic center project, which also includes a new City Hall, a new Police Department, the downtown park and a 581-space parking structure. The city is financing the project through bonds.

The city sold the surface lot where the medical center is being built to the Boji Group for $1, awarded the contract without soliciting bids and gave the developer $5.5 million.

In July 2017, a group of Royal Oak business owners filed suit against Royal Oak over the legality of the large-scale civic center development. In November 2017, Oakland County Circuit Court Judge Cheryl A. Matthews ruled that the plaintiffs did not have standing and dismissed the cases.

In July 2018, the plaintiffs appealed the decision to the Michigan Court of Appeals, and the court upheld Matthews’ decision on the same grounds.

In December 2018, they submitted an application to the Michigan Supreme Court. On May 29, 2019, the Michigan Supreme Court issued an order denying the application. At the time, the group vowed to bring a new lawsuit against the city for damages and legal fees caused by the project.

For more information about the civic center development, visit or call Royal Oak City Hall at (248) 246-3000.