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Gilbert gives updates for projects in downtown Detroit

Quicken Loans Chairman Dan Gilbert took questions about his other downtown Detroit projects at the Title Source-moves-downtown press conference last week. Here is a quick grab bag of updates on what he and Detroit Economic Growth Corporation President & CEO George Jackson spoke about. 

M-1 light rail line: Both Gilbert and local officials, such as Jackson, continue to speak confidently that the hard-fought-for streetcar line between the Detroit River and New Center would soon get the green light to begin construction. They didn't indicate an announcement about the project's approval was pending but didn't say the process was moving backward either.

Woodward Avenue retail: The Gilbert team continues to work toward reinvigorating the section of Woodward between Campus Martius and Grand Circus Park with dynamic retail. He did indicate that announcements of opening businesses would happen in groups instead of individually so the retailers would be better positioned for success. Gilbert also announced that his team has recently hired a handful of urban planning experts from outside of Michigan to help with the retail roll out. "That's really our focus right now," Gilbert says.

Downtown rental housing demand: Gilbert is bullish on downtown Detroit's worst kept secret: the sharp uptick in demand for rental housing in the greater downtown area. "The market is there," Gilbert says. "There are a lot of people in their 20s who want to come to downtown but it's sold out."

Possible future building acquisitions: Opportunity is the driving force behind Gilbert's building acquisition plan. Many of the nearly one dozen structures his team has purchased in a relatively short amount of time happened because it was the right opportunity at the right time at the right price. He says his team will look at adding more properties when the right opportunities present themselves. "A lot of these opportunities just came to us," Gilbert says. "A lot of (foreclosing) lenders approached us. This was the low-hanging fruit."

State help for Detroit's other large parks: Jackson says the negotiations about the State of Michigan helping the City of Detroit maintain and upgrade Belle Isle are ongoing, declining to say much more. He adds that similar talks are not going on about Detroit's other major parks, such as Rouge Park and Fort Wayne, but a deal on Belle Isle could be used as a template for future partnerships with those parks.

Source: Dan Gilbert, chairman of Quicken Loans and George Jackson, president & CEO of the Detroit Economic Growth Corp
Writer: Jon Zemke

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