Detroit PBS lands $7.5M matching gift as it plans new campus

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Detroit PBS

Detroit PBS will spend $20 million turning this building into a new community campus.

With an indoor/outdoor performance area and a studio with 300 seats for audience members, Detroit PBS’ planned new headquarters will be a community campus. 

“Everything we do starts with engaging the community and bringing them into the organization,” Detroit PBS CEO Rich Homberg told Current. 

Detroit PBS unveiled in April that it was rebranding from Detroit Public Television and planning a move to Detroit’s Milwaukee Junction neighborhood, nearly 20 years after the organization announced it was moving its headquarters at that time to Wixom, Mich., outside of the city. 

Last week, the station also revealed that the Fred A. and Barbara M. Erb Family Foundation will match up to $7.5 million in donations. The gift will help Detroit PBS approach other foundations as the station raises money for the project. 

The endorsement is one that Jenna Mortiz, the station’s director of philanthropic giving,“will be taking out this afternoon,” Homberg said Friday. 

The new Detroit property cost the station $10 million, and plans call for $20 million more in upgrades that will take the building from 40,000 to 50,000 square feet, Homberg said. It is slated to open in fall 2026 after construction begins later this year. 

Currently, Detroit PBS broadcasts from one location, has its administrative team in another, its classical and jazz radio station at a third site, and a Detroit journalism bureau at a fourth location, Mortiz said. 

The new campus will allow the entire organization to collaborate under one roof, she said. 

The building’s plans include a main studio with 300 seats for audience members, an education center with three rooms where the walls can collapse to make one room, an indoor/outdoor performance area and other studio spaces, Homberg said. The property also includes 120 parking spots. 

Detroit PBS found inspiration in public media facilities across the country, including GBH in Boston, Rocky Mountain PBS in Denver and Austin PBS in Texas. 

Detroit PBS CEO Rich Homberg

“What we discovered was you want a very efficient facility that’s plumbed for video in every corner,” Homberg said. 

One thing Detroit PBS leaders point out as unique about their new location is the indoor/outdoor performance area. It will feature a retractable glass wall that can close off the stage from outside weather, allowing for events year-round, Mortiz said. 

But in better weather, the stage can open to a covered outside area and the parking lot for concerts and other events, she said. 

Detroit PBS sold its Wixom headquarters in October and used the funds to buy the new Detroit property, said VP of Marketing Eric Freeland. The station is leasing temporary space near its old building until the new headquarters is ready.  

The station also rebranded in April from Detroit Public Television to Detroit PBS.

Detroit PBS has proven that it is more than a television station, said Freeland. 

The rebrand was influenced by two years of audience research, according to a news release. 

“We learned through research that this audience is comprised of diverse, engaged members of our community with a passion for what this organization does,” Detroit PBS trustee Charles Metzger said in the release. “The name Detroit PBS will quickly identify us to the audience that trusts us now, as much as ever.”

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