DETROIT — Dan Gilbert, majority owner of the NBA's Cleveland Cavaliers and founder of Quicken Loans. the nation's largest online mortgage lender, is leading a migration to Downtown Detroit. He is investing heavily in Downtown Detroit’s real estate. He moved his business here in an attempt to fuel a renaissance in the embattled city.
|Gilbert wants to lead a generation that helps bring Detroit back to where it once was and perhaps even take it to a place that it never was.|
During a recent meeting with him at the Quicken Loans headquarters in Detroit, he told the publishers and editors of five major ethnic newspapers including The Arab American News, that he loves Detroit. He grew up here and heard tales from his father and grandfather, who owned small businesses in the city not too far from where we were sitting, about it's heyday as the arsenal of democracy and Motor City capital of the world. He wants to lead a generation that helps bring it back to where it once was and perhaps even take it to a place that it never knew.
So more than a year ago, Gilbert moved himself and thousands of Quicken Loans employees from the affluent suburbs to the city of gleaming high tech offices. He created an oasis of activity in a city where nearly half of all office space was vacant. He encouraged his employees to move and live in Detroit. The city desperately needs new people to move in. According to the U.S. Census in the last 10 years the city has lost about a quarter of a million residents — almost 25 percent of its total population.
"These are skyscrapers in a major American city and need a little bit of love here and a little bit of activity and action, and some young energy in it," Gilbert said. "And once you do that, these things come to life."
His investment strategy and commitment to Detroit are already paying dividends. He purchased the Madison theater (55,000 sq. ft.) for one million dollars. Apparently he invested wisely, betting that high-tech start-ups would follow.
There is no doubt that Gilbert has enough cash to make things happen. Most likely he will be rewarded handsomely for his vision and wise investments. But, Gilbert is creating more than wealth for himself here. Today he is considered the third-largest landlord in Detroit, behind General Motors and City Hall. "We're hoping if we hit a grand slam here that Detroit is looked at as one of the miracle cities in the United States."
Gilbert is leading a serious effort to revive the Motor City and he encourages others to join him. He believes it was a mistake that corporate America and major department stores have deserted the city. They should hurry and come back to save a place for themselves in a city that is coming back, bigger and better.
-The Arab American News (TAAN)