There’s something in the air in downtown Detroit. Old, run down skyscrapers have new life. People are milling in the streets on lunch breaks. Start ups are moving to the city at a surprising rate. Downtown Detroit feels alive – if only between 9 to 5. There’s one man primarily responsible for much of the urban renewal: Dan Gilbert, founder and chairman of Quicken Loans. Gilbert is the chairman and founder of Rock Ventures and Quicken Loans Inc., and has been investing heavily in the bankrupt city of Detroit since early 2011. He has bought more than 40 downtown properties. Including a $600 million purchase of Greektown Casino and Hotel. The local people call it the "Dan Gilbert Effect".
Dan founded Rock Financial in 1985. The company grew into one of the largest independent mortgage lenders in the the U.S. and in the late 1990s, launched its Internet strategy and quickly became the fastest growing direct mortgage lender on the Internet.
In 2000, Intuit, a software maker, purchased Rock Financial and renamed the company "Quicken Loans". Dan stayed on as CEO, and the company became the largest online home lender. In 2002, Dan repurchased Quicken Loans back from Intuit. He kept the "Quicken" brand, and announced in 2007 he was going to move the company from a suburban head quarters to downtown Detroit. In 2010, Quicken is now located in the Compuware building facing Campus Martius Park.
After Quicken's move to Detroit, Gilbert began a buying spree of Detroit real estate. He now owns or controls more than 30 buildings, skyscrapers, storefronts and Greek Town Casino.
The Gilbert team is known for breathing new life into their buildings. Besides filling them with tenants, the work in various buildings includes redesigning lobbies, opening up office floors by removing partitions and paneled drop ceiling, and giving many interiors an edgy urban look with bare brick walls and exposed duct works. No detail is too small. New lighting illuminates the outside of the buildings, and speakers outside play music for people walking by, to create a sense of activity. The light, activity and sound Gilbert believes are what make people feel safer.
Due to "The Gilbert Effect" the city's economic development arm forecasts almost 1,000 new residential units coming down to downtown over the next five years. in 2014, developers are expected to complete the renovation of the 19-story David Whitney building to house a boutique hotel, apartments, restaurants and a bar. Also the city's downtown development authority gave their approval of a proposed $450 million sports-and-entertainment arena backed by the Illitch family for the Detroit Red Wings.
The city is far from healthy, but investors are optimistic about Detroit's future.
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Ben Lang is a Birmingham Realtor specializing in Oakland County Real Estate. Ben is an agent with Max Broock in Birmingham, Michigan. See what past clients have to say about Ben Lang. Lang Premier Properties looks out for your best interests when you purchase a new custom luxury home. We always recommend working with an experienced luxury real estate agent when buying a new luxury estate.