Hubbell Remembered

Everyone who was ever lucky enough to have met Colin Hubbell has a story about his warmth, positive energy or his passion. Or all three.

Model D asked a few people close to him to share their thoughts about the inimitable man.

Claire Nelson, Bureau of Urban Living and Open City Detroit

We were roommates. Or rather, I was his. When I went to him in the summer of 2006 with my hair-brained scheme to open a retail shop on West Canfield Street, he didn’t try to talk me out of it. He was on board from our very first conversation. And when I look back on those initial chats, he really had no proof at all that I could actually pull it off. But he believed in me – and by the winter we had negotiated a plan: I would open my shop in his office space on the ground floor of the Canfield Lofts – one of his development projects, and also, incidentally, my home.

For me, it was a dream come true -- my own shop in my own building! Not only would my “downstairs” commute mean I would have the lightest carbon footprint in all of Southeastern Michigan, I would also have the coolest roommate/landlord, bar none. And believe me, for a new business owner who doesn’t know what the heck she’s doing, having someone like Colin in your corner makes all the difference in the world.

So we opened the following spring. And I’ll never forget the first thing he bought – a print for his wife, Trish. It was a picture of two bicycles with a heart in the middle. Oh, how I loved him for this! He told me all about how before they had kids, when they were poor newlyweds, they would take long bike rides around the city. It also reminded me of the first time I met him at Cityfest – he rode up to the City Living tent on his bike looking like an urban hippie on a mission. He was like this wonderful angel with attitude.

Ann Perrault, Avalon International Breads

I began to know Colin through a journey of business partnership. As I got to know him I was amazed at his incredible faith in God, his relationship with Trish, his family, and the love of life he shared with everyone individually. He understood the small business world and the larger complexities, the dialectic between offering a chance for growth and what that financially meant to his business partners, his children, his partner. He understood that he didn't always have control to make things happen.

I am a believer with Colin in this city and in this faith…with love, hope and dreams, I honor Colin.

Sue Mosey, president, University Cultural Center Association

When you think of the ongoing redevelopment effort that has been underway in Midtown now for over a decade, Colin Hubbell will always be remembered as one of the strongest advocates and our most effective community builder. His passion for the City ran deep, instilled in him no doubt by his mother, Mary Hubbell, herself a devoted community advocate.

When Colin began his work in Midtown, managing the Woodward Place development in Brush Park, he found a way to marry his love for the city, his passion for making a contribution to its future and his interest in Midtown, a city neighborhood where he felt he could focus his efforts to really make a difference. Due to his tireless efforts, Midtown now has many signature projects such as Woodward Place, 55 West Canfield, Canfield Lofts, and the Art Center and Ferry Street Townhomes. Each development encouraged others to follow in his footsteps.

But Colin not only developed the community through physical revitalization, he played a pivotal role as a mentor, a teacher, a friend, a confidant, and a booster. He always made time for everyone in Midtown, sharing his experiences and his beliefs about city life, what we could all do to make it better, how we might work together to accomplish our collective goals. This was such a gift and we are all very thankful for the many years we spent working with Colin and for how selfless his love was for all of us.

George W. Jackson, president and CEO of the Detroit Economic Growth Corp.

I know I speak for the entire staff of the Detroit Economic Growth Corporation when I say that Detroit has lost a sharp mind, a great heart and a powerful spirit with the passing of Colin Hubbell.

I have known Colin since his time in the administration of Mayor Dennis Archer, while I was still working for DTE Energy. It was obvious then and has been demonstrated again and again since that he was a very special person, whose passion for development in Detroit went well beyond his job working for the City of Detroit.

As he successfully moved into the private sector, he was always eager to share his insights and the knowledge he gained from his experience both in and out of city government. He’d see me in the lobby of our building, and it was always worthwhile to stop and hear what he had to say, because he was always thinking bigger than any specific development project or self-interest in a policy.

Our hearts go out to Colin’s family, as they will miss his passion and his presence more than any of us. Those things cannot be replaced, but his accomplishments still stand and his character will be remembered. We are inspired by them and grateful that he shared them with us.

Dan Mulhern, Michigan's First Gentleman, excerpted from his web site

Colin Hubbell exquisitely led with his best self – his real, authentic self.  Colin was a white, professional father of four who lived in and loved Detroit, when others were complaining and fleeing.  He worked for the buttoned-down Mayor Archer, and he supported and befriended the so-called hip-hop Mayor Kilpatrick.  He rode his bike 15 miles to work and then to meetings, any season of the year.  Like all great best-self leaders he saw people as individuals, not as types; he would reach out to anyone and was not fooled by appearances. ... He developed lofts in mid-town Detroit and sold them when people said he was crazy and it couldn’t be done.  ...  He was always real.  WYSWWHW – what you saw was what he was.  He knew he was mortal.  He was real every minute, which we’re reminded is all we have. Lots of us thought Colin was crazy.  You never knew what might come out of his mouth.  But you never doubted that it was Colin’s view – nobody’s else’s.

Mayor Kwame Kilpatrick

Carlita and I considered Colin to be our brother; we were deeply saddened to learn of his passing.  Colin’s genuine passion for life and our city will be missed by so many.  Our thoughts and prayers are with Trish, the kids and his entire family during this very difficult time.

Kelli B. Kavanaugh, Model D and Wheelhouse Detroit

I was at a joyous wedding this past weekend and people were talking about Colin. It wasn’t morbid or maudlin, either – it was wistful and sad, but also, well, smiley. Stories about Colin have that effect on people.

When my business partner, Karen Gage, and I were starting to put the pieces of Wheelhouse Detroit together, of course Colin was one of the first people we talked nuts and bolts with. He knew about doing business in Detroit firsthand, which made him a pragmatic ear. Plus, he was smart and honest enough to tell us what we were doing wrong while still encouraging our crazy endeavor.

We sat down over breakfast and showed him some preliminary logos – we were stuck in this very literal place: there were wheels and houses in all of them. (Obvious much?) He threw the paper on the table and pronounced, “These logos suck!”

He told us to play with a map of the city, to look at the spokes of Detroit’s streets as the spokes of a wheel. We looked at each other, mouths agape, and exclaimed in unison, “That’s an awesome idea!”

He was nothing if not generous with his ideas. I would say that he was one of my heroes, but he once told me he hated to be called that – and he’s like the only person in the world who could say that without a whiff of false modesty. Instead, I’ll simply thank him for every bit of time and knowledge and perspective he ever shared.

Read More about Colin Hubbell's life and influence, as well as funeral and memorial information here.

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