IN­VEST­MENTS SPUR ‘EX­CITE­MENT, EN­ERGY’

Phi­lan­thropists speak about ef­forts to aid Detroit’s re­cov­ery

The Detroit News - - Front Page - BY MARK HICKS The Detroit News

There’s room for in­vest­ments as Detroit re­builds, phi­lan­thropists and moguls told a group of for­mer res­i­dents Thurs­day.

Rein­vest­ing in Detroit as well as over­haul­ing its im­age — that was the fo­cus of a gath­er­ing Thurs­day for the fourth Detroit Home­com­ing, a three-day event de­signed to con­vince ex­pa­tri­ates to re­turn and in­vest in the area.

Since its launch in 2014, more than $300 mil­lion has been in­vested in city projects and busi­nesses, co­or­di­na­tors said.

Such ef­forts, cou­pled with on­go­ing re­de­vel­op­ment, help po­si­tion Detroit for growth that out­siders thought was im­pos­si­ble a few years ago, said Stephen Ross, a phi­lan­thropist and renowned real es­tate in­vestor.

“Now it has the abil­ity to at­tract out­side de­vel­op­ers, out­side cap­i­tal,” said Ross, a Univer­sity of Michi­gan alum and Wayne State Univer­sity Law School grad­u­ate. “To­day there is so much ex­cite­ment and en­ergy.”

Thurs­day’s fo­rum at the Detroit In­sti­tute of Arts Film Theatre was hosted by Dan Gil­bert, chair­man and founder of Quicken Loans.

The bil­lion­aire, a ma­jor­ity owner of the NBA’s Cleve­land Cava­liers, has been viewed as a key player in help­ing re­vi­tal­ize the Mo­tor City. He started mov­ing his com­pa­nies to Detroit in 2010, in­vest­ing more than $2.2 bil­lion to buy and ren­o­vate nearly 100 com­mer­cial prop­er­ties.

This week, his Bedrock Detroit shared more de­tails for the re­design of the J.L. Hud­son site project. The 1 mil­lion-square­foot mixed use de­vel­op­ment on the site of the for­mer depart­ment store is slated to cost $900 mil­lion and in­cludes plans for an 800-foot tower, which would be the tallest down­town.

In Fe­bru­ary, Mi­crosoft Corp. an­nounced it planned to open a down­town Detroit of­fice next year in the One Cam­pus Mar­tius build­ing, which Gil­bert’s Bedrock Detroit de­vel­op­ment com­pany over­sees.

Gil­bert and Ross last year each do­nated $5 mil­lion to the Wayne State Law School — rep­re­sent­ing the largest do­na­tion in its his­tory, of­fi­cials said at the time.

In­tro­duc­ing Gil­bert be­fore the talk show-like fo­rum on Thurs­day, Michi­gan State Univer­sity Pres­i­dent Lou Anna Si­mon de­scribed the busi­ness­man as “some­one who can take vi­sion and move it into ac­tion at light­ning speed.”

Ross later praised him as an ex­am­ple of a vi­sion­ary help­ing push Detroit for­ward.

“You’ve set the stan­dard, you’ve set the pace,” said Ross, the chair­man and founder of Re­lated Com­pa­nies and Time Warner Cen­ter in New York City, who also owns the Na­tional Foot­ball League’s Mi­ami Dol­phins and Sun Life Sta­dium.

Ross and Gil­bert spoke along­side Michi­gan expat Dray­mond Green, a Golden State War­riors player and for­mer Michi­gan State Univer­sity star.

The ath­lete told Gil­bert that he was pur­su­ing a busi­ness, Blink Fit­ness.

“We’re work­ing on bring­ing it here to Detroit, which I think would be great,” Green said.

The bas­ket­ball star’s $3.1 mil­lion gift to MSU in 2015 was slated to go to its bas­ket­ball pro­gram as well as a do­na­tion from the Ath­letic Depart­ment for a Bres­lin Cen­ter up­grade.

“That feel­ing, I’ve never felt that feel­ing in my life,” he said. “I have never been so happy to give away money in my life.”

When Gil­bert asked Green about the newly opened Lit­tle Cae­sars Arena, the sports fig­ure praised it as proof of Detroit’s re­vival.

“I think it’s go­ing to help boost the morale of the city,” he said.

Jose Juarez / Spe­cial to The Detroit News

Dan Gil­bert, far left, jokes with phi­lan­thropist Stephen Ross, cen­ter, as well as Golden State War­riors player and for­mer MSU bas­ket­ball star Dray­mond Green dur­ing Home­com­ing fes­tiv­i­ties at the Detroit In­sti­tute of Arts.

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