Crowdfunding campaign launched for “The Lee Commons” project in Saginaw

Friday, November 1, 2019

$25,000 goal to win matching grant through MEDC’s Public Spaces Community Places initiative

LANSING, Mich. – Saginaw will soon have a community welcome center and gathering space through a new crowdfunding campaign, the Michigan Economic Development Corporation, Saginaw Community Foundation and 633 South Washington Avenue L3C announced today. The dilapidated Lee Mansion estate will be transformed into an indoor and outdoor multi-purpose community space, creating an anchor for the neighborhood. The campaign is being offered through Michigan-based crowdfunding platform Patronicity.

If the campaign reaches its crowdfunding goal of $25,000 by December 31, the project will win a matching grant with funds made possible by MEDC’s Public Spaces Community Places (PSCP) program. For project details and to donate, please visit:

“Saginaw is doing some great redevelopment work and The Lee Commons is a wonderful example of a grassroots led and communally demanded redevelopment,” said MEDC Community Development Regional Director Sarah Rainero. “We are pleased to provide resources for this effort through our Public Spaces Community Places program.”

The project will focus on preserving the priceless historic character of the Lee while making it accessible to all. Once finished, The Lee Commons will provide a variety of assets to the public and broaden access to Saginaw heritage – a place to foster social, economic and environmental self-determination.

“The Saginaw Community Foundation (SCF) is proud to partner with The Lee Commons as it aligns perfectly with our mission to fulfill donor wishes and enable community initiatives to come to life. SCF is supporting the fundraising efforts by connecting with the broader community and providing a space for donors to contribute directly through the Foundation,” said Renee Johnston, president & CEO of SCF.

The campaign will allow for the completion of three main community spaces within The Lee Commons; The Commons, The Pop-Up Locale and The Welcome Center. These spaces will provide an indoor, year-round space for people to meet, have a coffee, shop local and relax. The Commons gives casual access to a historic and inspiring piece of the city. Outside, the park will give Saginaw residents and visitors a new green space to appreciate the environment as well as create a corridor to the Saginaw River Walk.

“The Public Spaces Community Places grant is heaven-sent for projects like ours. Sparing the Lee Mansion from demolition was an effort that took nearly a decade, and thanks to the help of Ann Arbor Builders we were able to stabilize the estate and prepare for what’s next,” said Alex Mixter, project manager for the Lee Mansion Restoration Project. “Today, we are working to open the space to the community. The matching funds from MEDC would push us over the finish line to make all this possible. It helps us to be able to tell donors that their gift is being matched dollar for dollar, allowing us to keep this a community project from start to finish.”

Public Spaces Community Places is a collaborative effort of the MEDC, the Michigan Municipal League and Patronicity, in which residents can use crowdfunding to be part of the development of strategic projects in their communities and be backed with a matching grant from MEDC. Communities, nonprofits and other business entities can apply at

“Preserving a community’s culture and heritage is key to great placemaking,” said Dan Gilmartin, CEO and executive director of the Michigan Municipal League. “This project will not only keep a beloved historic building in place, it will bring it back to life as a destination that the whole community can enjoy.”

“The Saginaw Community Foundation is committed to preserving the legacy of our donors; this project is an opportunity to preserve the legacy of Saginaw. Through our partnership, SCF aims to bring together our dedicated community to breathe life back into Lee Mansion as a focal point for a neighborhood and as a communal space for residents,” said Channing McKay, SCF program associate and Lee Commons volunteer.

The Public Spaces Community Places initiative started in 2014 with MEDC providing matched funding of up to $50,000 for community improvement projects throughout Michigan. As of October 28, 2019, MEDC has provided $7,010,196 in matching grants. Since the launch of the program, 230 projects have been successful in reaching their goal, with more than $8.3 million raised from 42,702 individual donors.

About Michigan Economic Development Corporation (MEDC)

The Michigan Economic Development Corporation is the state’s marketing arm and lead advocate for business development, job awareness and community development with the focus on growing Michigan’s economy. For more information on the MEDC and our initiatives, visit For Pure Michigan® tourism information, your trip begins at Join the conversation on: Facebook Instagram LinkedIn, and Twitter.