Friends of Woodward Avenue honor urban developers who renew its vitality.
oodward Avenue, the Main Street of our
region, stretches 27 miles, from down-
town Detroit through 10 suburban com-
munities. It touches countless lives, from
residents to business owners to students and seniors.
Each year since 1993, the Friends of Woodward has
bestowed its Judge Augustus Woodward Award to
those "with firm commitments to economic develop-
ment and improvement of the quality of life for each
of us who depend on Woodward Avenue as a commer-
cial, residential and culturally thriving Main Street,"
explained Svetlana Bogdanovic, president of the
Past Woodward Award winners include Mike Mitch,
for his work on the Fox Theatre and Comerica Park,
and Peter Cummings, for his work with the Detroit
Symphony Orchestra Hall.
On Oct 23, this year's awards were given to Harriet
Saperstein, president of the nonprofit economic devel-
opment agency HP Devco Inc.; Bernie Glieberman,
president of Novi-based Crosswinds Communities;
and the Rev. Jim Holley of Historic Little Rock Baptist
Church in Detroit.
HP Devco's Saperstein is also chair of the Woodward
Heritage Team, which boosts planning and develop-
ment along the entire road. In 2002, the team succeed-
ed in having the Federal Highway Administration des-
ignate Woodward as Michigan's first National Scenic
Byway — one of only six urban byways designated in
the country. The program, begun in 1992, is an effort
to recognize, preserve and enhance selected roads hav-
ing cultural, historic or scenic qualities.
In 1990, Saperstein became director of HP Devco, a
nonprofit development company in Highland Park,
which received generous support from Chrysler when
the automaker moved its headquarters from Highland
Park to Auburn Hills, she says.
"I began working on a major project which was a
community dream for 20 years — a town center."
On her wall, Saperstein has a photo of herself walk-
ing across an empty field on Woodward north of
Davison. That site now boasts 200 units of affordable
housing, 18 stores and, across the street, another 12
stores, including a "state-of-the-art" Farmer Jack.
Before (inset) and after photos of Woodward Avenue
and the HP Devco revitalization.
It took 10 years of hard work, she says, and $20 mil-
lion. A variety of public and private sources funded the
project, including $2 million in loans and upfront
investments by HP Devco. Now, there is $60 million
worth of retail and residential development serving
Highland Park and nearby communities.
"I feel that tikkun olam (repairing the world) is my
theme," says Saperstein, a secular Jew who belongs to
three synagogues — the Reconstructionist
Congregation of Detroit, Congregation T'Chiyah in
Royal Oak and the Grosse Pointe Jewish Council. "I'm
very lucky. With the help of many people and this
organization, I've been able to help repair not the
world, but my little corner of it."
What's next for Saperstein? She says HP Devco
already has put in motion plans for another 10 acres of
the former Sears site in Highland Park, which could be
turned into 125 condominiums.
Wooing Suburbanites Back
Bernie Glieberman, the second honoree, is a commu-
nity developer, building homes and commercial prop-
erties. He is president of Crosswinds, a Michigan-based
company with branches in six states.
VISIONS on page 36