What is the historic significance of the mills?

    Henry Ford established the Village Industries Mills in the 1920s and 30s throughout what was then rural Southeast Michigan. These industrial properties were powered by hydroelectricity and produced automotive parts. They were re-tooled during World War II to assist the war effort, some employing women who were part of the female wartime workforce known as "Rosie The Riveter."

    Four of the original mills and surrounding land along the Middle Rouge River were deeded to Wayne County in the 1930s and 40s by Ford Motor Company. One of those facilities, Nankin Mills which will remain in County ownership, functions as a museum and as the headquarters for the Wayne County Parks Division. The remaining three mills (Phoenix, Wilcox, and Newburgh) were sold by Wayne County to selected developers in 2019.

    How will the redevelopment of the mills preserve the history of the properties?

    Phoenix Mill is now owned by Critical Mass, LLC. They intend to rehabilitate the property into an event space. Wilcox Mill is now owned by the Mill on Rouge, LLC. They are partnering with The Art Foundation to create an art education space in the former mill and construct an "Inner Child Sculpture Garden" on the surrounding property. Newbugh Mill is now owned by Newbug Mill, LLC. They intend to rehabilitate the mill into a craft distillery.

    Purchase and Development Agreements with each of the developers require redevelopment of the historic mills will be completed in accordance with the Secretary of the Interior's Standards for Rehabilitation and Guidelines for Rehabilitating Historic Buildings. All developers will be required to pursue listing the property on the National Park Service's National Register of Historic Places.

    How will these sales benefit Hines Park?

    In addition to restoring the historic mills for uses complimentary to Hines Parks, adding 16-29 acres to the park's overall footprint, and better connecting park trails, all revenue from the sale of these properties will be reinvested into the park infrastructure that supports it. In addition to active recreation park improvements, environmental conservation and habitat restoration will improve sustainability of the park and the watershed.

    What kind of developments will take place in the mills and how will they affect Hines Park?

    Wayne County is only interested in development agreements for projects that will create complimentary experiences for Hines Park. Opportunities for restaurants, breweries, art galleries, and bicycle shops are some of the concepts envisioned. We are working with each municipality to define those developments and uses appropriate for local communities. Mill Run is, first and foremost, a parks enhancement project. Mill Run will create more recreation opportunities to enhance Hines Park and surrounding communities. The economic development value of the project for both the County and private partners is linked to the intrinsic value of Hines Park as a recreation attraction and natural resource preserve.

    What happens if a developer sells the property?

    In the event that the purchaser sells the properties, the subsequent owner must agree to restrictive covenants that protect the exterior of the building and ensure that all future alterations are completed in accordance with the Secretary of the Interior's Standards for Rehabilitation. The buildings may not be demolished, removed, deconstructed, or moved from their present location, unless such action is consistent with those Standards. These requirements will be recorded with the Register of Deeds in perpetuity. Additionally, the agreements for Wilcox and Newburgh mills provide Wayne County the first right to repurchase the properties with the owners wish to resell them.

    Will these developments be open to the public and have public park access?

    Yes, these properties will be opened to the public. Phoenix Mill is currently gated off and closed to the public. As part of its redevelopment plan, Phoenix Mill will include a garden and park area with flower beds, bicycle parking, and walking/biking trails. Wayne County will also require all redevelopment of Wilcox and Newburgh Mills to be open to the public and integrated into the park for public use and enjoyment. This will include improvements to recreational assets and connectivity to neighborhoods and downtowns.

    Does Wayne County have a plan to sell park land?

    No. Hines Park is not being sold off for strip malls and subdivisions. In fact, the overall result of Mill Run will be to expand Hines Park by as much as 16-29 acres or more. We have sold the mill parcels because we believe public-private partnerships are the best way to preserve and reuse these mills in a way which respects their historic integrity. Mill Run will ultimately strengthen and enhance the park by creating more access points to the park and upgrading trails and bridges in the Hines Park and the Holliday Nature Preserve.