Last year, billionaire Dan Gilbert (worth $3.5 billion, according to Forbes) bought up downtown Detroit buildings by the dozen. The owner of Rock Ventures — holding company of Quicken Loans and Bedrock — only began buying Detroit buildings in 2011, but by the end of 2012 he had 15, not including 3 parking structures and the Z-lot development, which will be a new parking structure/mall. He closed on 1001 Woodward Avenue this year, before topping it all off with purchase #17, the Vinton Building. Impressive? Yes. Creative? Not really.
Listen, we're not really sure where Gilbert gets his big ideas, but one source might be a Huff Post blog entry from 2009 called "How a Billionaire Can Make a Billion Dollars." It was authored by Detroiter Toby Barlow, who spills this wisdom for cashing in on cheap real estate,
"What you do is very quietly, so as not to inflate any prices, buy up all the available real estate in the Motor City; the skyscrapers, the housing, the vacant lots, as much as you can possibly embrace in those little seersucker arms of yours." The advice goes on to explain that the Billionaire should sell holdings in other, more expensive cities, and relocate corporate headquarters to the newly purchased Detroit buildings. Sound familiar? Reuters claims that as of this year, Quicken Loans has invested $1 billion, bought some 2.6 million square feet of commercial space in the downtown area and moved 7,000 employees there. GUYS, this is it. Detroit's future is playing out like a Huff Po blog entry from 2009*. Barlow-inspired buying spree? Maybe, unfortunately, the post was huffing a little too much early Bing-administration excitement with the lines: "With a new mayor and an all new city council, any prospective investor in the area will find a capable, competent, and welcoming partner." Oops. So there you have it folks. Detroit: the city where ideas planted five years ago with probably come to fruition, and still no help from city government. · How a Billionaire Can Make a Billion Dollars [Huff Po Business]
· Previous coverage of Dan Gilbert [Curbed Detroit]