Quicken Loans Founder Invests In Detroit

By: Jeff Karoub/AP
By: Jeff Karoub/AP

Quicken Loans founder and chairman Dan Gilbert said Wednesday he's bought a five-story building near the mortgage lender's downtown Detroit headquarters as part of a quest to inject the area's business district with a tech-savvy, entrepreneurial work force.
Gilbert, who also owns the Cleveland Cavaliers, formed a partnership to purchase the Madison Building on Broadway Street, built in 1917 as part of the now-razed Madison Theatre complex. The price of the purchase from Clinton Township-based Broadway Property Partners LLC wasn't disclosed.
The new partnership, Madison Theatre Building LLC, will keep the building's street-level tenants -- Angelina Italian Bistro and Stub Hub. Upper floors will be renovated into "an exciting open, colorful space designed to encourage partnership among local entrepreneurs and their budding projects and companies."
In a phone interview Wednesday night, Gilbert told The Associated Press that the Madison Building would be filled on the first day with a mix of established and startup businesses and at least half of the prospective tenants have no affiliation to Quicken Loans. He declined to name any companies, but said one is a well-known advertising and marketing firm.
Gilbert said he is looking at large, additional commercial space to acquire in the area around Quicken Loans' headquarters but wouldn't confirm any specific sites.
Quicken last year moved its headquarters and 1,700 of its 3,700 employees from the suburbs to the Compuware Building, and several sister companies joined them.
The renovation is expected to be completed by fall.
The moves are expected to help in downtown's resurgence and centralize a creative hub, Gilbert said.
"You can't become the next Silicon Valley, or whatever you want to call it, when you have one company in Mount Clemens, another in Troy," he said in October. "They can be successful . but you've got to have a central core."
Gilbert joined fellow entrepreneurs and investors Josh Linkner and Brian Hermelin last fall in creating Detroit Venture Partners, a Motor City-centric venture capital firm.
"I do believe there has been, unfortunately, a shift away from risk-taking -- even people who do have capital and money and have made major scores," Gilbert said. "Their job has shifted to protecting what they have instead of investing that capital back in their hometown."

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