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Dan Gilbert's Empire Looks Ready For Capitol Park Expansion

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Evidence suggests Dan Gilbert is now a player in the downtown Detroit district of Capitol Park, where sources tell us Gilbert recently took control of the Bamlet Building (often called the Capitol Square Building). Built in 1897, the Bamlet's broken windows and crumbling facade earned it a spot on a 2012 list of Downtown's most dangerous buildings. You wouldn't know it today. Workers have been spotted installing security cameras, removing debris from the building's interior, clearing the windows of advertisements and graffiti. Also gone: the "For Sale" signs.

Several sources, including Ryan Snoek, a downtown Detroit broker affiliated with the recent sale of the David Stott and Free Press buildings, as well as Josh Greenwood--co-owner of Urban Bean Coffee just across the street from the Bamlet, told Curbed that Gilbert's purchase is relatively well-known. A representative of Exclusive Realty, the building's last-known listing agency, confirmed it was no longer on the market.

A spokesperson from Quicken declined to comment, saying the company had nothing to report at this time.

What might Gilbert want with 36,000 square feet in Capitol Park? In those flashy plans released by Bedrock and others earlier this year, Capitol Park is envisioned as "the center of a new arts district with galleries and cafes on the ground floors and residential apartments above." Renderings indicate the future of the Bamlet Building is residential.

But there's more: The Bamlet is not the only Captiol Park building with Gilbert-related rumblings. Before it left the market, the Bamlet was listed with three other nearby properties owned by Detroit property baron Dennis Kefallinos. All were listed together for $5.3M. Those additional properties— two office buildings at 119 State and 37 W. Grand River, as well as a nearby parking lot— all recently disappeared from the market around the same time as the Bamlet.

[Teal arrows point to the buildings once listed in the $5.3M bundle. The purple indicates residential, though the parking lot is envisioned as a new building.]

Should Gilbert be behind those deals, Capitol Park's future—already bright with the impending renovations of the Griswold Apartments, as well as the Farwell, Capitol Park, and United Way Buildings—just got a whole lot more exciting.

[Left: 37 W Grand River, Right: 119 State. Photo by Chris and Michelle Gerard]
Need the big picture? Check out our working map of Capitol Park Progress, where you can find out info and rumors on every building.