Dan Gilbert, billionaire founder of Quicken Loans and champion of downtown Detroit commercial real estate, last week announced he will buy the long-vacant 38-story Book Tower skyscraper and two other adjacent buildings on Washington Boulevard. The latest in a series of acquisitions for Gilbert sizable portfolio under Bedrock Real Estate Services, the buildings will cost about $30 million total, to be paid to Vancouver-based AKNO Properties. That's for the 1926 Book Tower, the 13-story Book Building and an adjacent 2-story community center. Read our Q+A with Gilbert’s real estate partner Jim Ketai here. The Detroit Free Press quoted Gilbert as saying he's planning "a game-changing, mixed-use development.” The tower and the Book Building have been vacant since 2009, and renovations are expected to cost more than $100 million.
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While its product development teams and manufacturing facilities will remain in Michigan, Cadillac will move its headquarters to downtown New York City from Detroit, parent company General Motors announced Tuesday. A new office in Soho will house the “majority of functions with oversight and responsibility for both global and U.S.” starting next year, GM said in a statement. The iconic car brand is currently based in the Renaissance Center, whose towers define the skyline of Detroit. As such, the move is likely to rankle some who have seen the real estate rebound in downtown Detroit as a cause for celebration amid increasingly dire prospects for the Motor City, which last year became the largest U.S. municipality to file for bankruptcy in the nation's history. Cadillac's decreasing sales and struggle to stand out among GM's brands are key challenges for the company's new president, Johan de Nysschen, who joined the company last month from the Infiniti division of Nissan.
Submissions to the “Redesigning Detroit” competition matched the enthusiasm of its sponsor, Rock Ventures / Quicken Loans, in envisioning a future for the once iconic J.L. Hudson’s department store on Woodward Avenue downtown. Demolished 15 years ago, the 25-story tower left a physical and symbolic gap in the city’s urban fabric that the competition asked its entrants to repair. "You couldn't ask for a more exciting piece of property to redevelop, and one that can have such a profound impact on how Detroit feels about itself and sees itself," said Reed Kroloff, outgoing director of the Cranbrook Academy of Art and advisor on the competition. The juried competition garnered 200 submissions. Winners were awarded $15,000 for first place, $5,000 for second place and $2,500 for third place, but it’s unclear what will be built. Jim Ketai, who manages Dan Gilbert’s real estate entity, mentioned plans for two residential towers on the Hudson site in a Q&A with AN. The goal of the competition from the sponsor’s standpoint was apparently to get a conversation going. Per their usual MO, Rock Ventures made one stipulation: it had to include retail. Here are the winners: First Place: “MINICITY Detroit” Davide Marchetti and Erin Pellegrino; Rome, Italy Second Place: “Detroit Entrepreneurial Center (DEC),” Efrain Velez, Juan Nunez, Marko Kanceljak; Kalamazoo, Michigan Third Place: “Highwave Detroit,” Team Rossetti/Metrogramma; Southfield (soon to be Detroit), Michigan Three projects also won a public voting round, earning cash prizes of $2,500, $1,000 an $500 respectively: First Place: “Hudson’s Quarter,” Emilie M. Rottman and James G. Ramil; Washington DC Second Place: “Exten(D),” Extending Life in the D, Beyond the 9 to 5, Smith Group JJR-Diana Khadr, Tengteng Wang, Alexa Bush, Kyle Johnson, Jessie McHugh; Detroit, Michigan Third Place: “Blue Fountain Tower,” Salvador Parra Espinosa and Selene Serna Contreras, De San Bernadino; Toluca, Mexico