Rebuilding Detroit, One Building at a Time
An excerpt from the article "Detroit Native Dan Gilbert Bets Big On the City's Rebound," by Ned Randolph at Reuters.
Long an emblem of urban decline, Detroit is suddenly being marketed as America's comeback kid.
The campaign's most vocal salesman is Dan Gilbert, the 49-year-old founder and chairman of Quicken Loans and the majority owner of the Cleveland Cavaliers basketball team.
Gilbert, a Detroit native, isn't content to just talk up his hometown. In the last year, he has snapped up so many downtown properties he is now one of the largest private landowners in the city.
In all, Gilbert controls 1.7 million square feet in Detroit, including four office buildings and two parking platforms in a four-block area of Woodward Avenue.
His plan: To leverage his wealth and connections to create a cluster of entrepreneurial companies in downtown that will lure other start-ups away from Chicago, New York and Silicon Valley. He calls his vision "Detroit 2.0."
Last year, Gilbert moved 1,700 Quicken employees from the suburb of Livonia into the Compuware building downtown. He plans to move another 2,000 workers into his newly renovated office buildings by year end.
"We think we're buying at the bottom," Gilbert said. "But we can affect the outcome as well. We look at ourselves as operators. We're not just waiting and seeing what the market does."
He gutted the top five floors of the Compuware building, moved executive offices to the interior to give all employees window views of downtown and the Detroit River, and added inviting social lounges, recreation rooms and a basketball court.
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