Dan Gilbert buys more downtown Detroit property, comments on Detroit's potential bankruptcy

Jun 20, 2013

Dan Gilbert’s Rock Ventures just purchased two more buildings on Woodward Avenue. This adds to a growing number of property that Gilbert owns in Detroit’s downtown.

So far, Gilbert’s Rock Ventures and Bedrock Real Estate Services have purchased around 30 buildings and parking garages.

According to David Muller at MLive, that's about 7.6 million square feet of real estate in Detroit. More specifically, that is about 4 million square feet of commercial space and another 3.6 million square feet of parking.

Daniel Howes at the Detroit News reported that in total, Gilbert has invested about $1.2 billion in city property.

Much of the property has been slated for retail, commercial, and residential space. Several of the buildings include headquarters for Gilbert’s various companies including Quicken Loans and the Detroit Venture Partnership.

But isn’t Gilbert concerned about the city’s dismal financial situation?

Actually, he told Howe that bankruptcy “is a tsunami we all think is going to come… But I think it will be over relatively quickly. The faster we get there, the better.”

Check out this map of all of Gilbert’s properties to date:

View Dan Gilbert's property in downtown Detroit in a larger map

Some people believe Gilbert is single-handedly “saving” Detroit while many others are skeptical.

David Segal for the New York Times wrote a report on Gilbert in April:

His plans, according to academics like Brent D. Ryan, author of “Design After Decline: How America Rebuilds Shrinking Cities,” amount to one of the most ambitious privately financed urban reclamation projects in American history.

Segal points out that if Detroit sees a turnaround, then Gilbert will see huge profits. But Segal thinks the risk “looks as great as the potential reward.”

While many praise Gilbert for his efforts to redevelop the downtown, others are skeptical he will succeed and others feel uneasy about the increasingly unequal development pattern across Detroit.

The urban planning professor, Brent Ryan, is one of the skeptics. Segal quoted him in his article in the New York Times. Ryan said:

“Urban renewal always happens as a symphony of events, and part of the symphony is innovative, optimistic developers with the ability and willingness to transform historic properties,” he said in a recent interview. “But another part is a strong regional economy. You can’t fight the fact that Detroit is a de-industrializing market and it isn’t facing dramatic, positive transformation.”

-Julia Field, Michigan Radio Newsroom