August 7, 2013

Bankruptcy

Every major news outlet in the world has reported on Detroit's recent bankruptcy. A friend in Prague asked about it last week. Every time a person hears that I am from Detroit, their eyes dilate, and the question is asked: "Didn't Detroit go bankrupt?" Read more...

*****

January 23, 2013

Good Bye

Detroit was once the fastest growing city in America. Today, it stands as a reminder of Americas failures and perhaps as Americas future. It remains the automotive capital of the World and the birthplace of Motown, techno, Faygo, $5 pizza, and Eminem. Read more...

*****

December 18, 2012

Book Review: "Detroit City is the Place to Be: The Afterlife of an American Metropolis" by Mark Binelli

A slew of new books have been released about the city of Detroit over the past few months, including "Detroit: A Biography by Scott Martelle and A Hidden History of Detroit by Amy Elliot Bragg but Detroit City is the Place to Be is different. Mark Binelli, a former resident of Detroit's suburbs does an immaculate job of weaving through interesting parts of Detroit's origins, it's recent past and the current situation and tying them all together with adroit stories, interviews and allegories. Read more...

*****

December 7, 2012

Lafayette Towers Has a New Owner

On December 6, 2012, Lafayette Towers management handed out notices to residents informing them that as of December 1, the apartment buildings have been purchased by a group called "Lafayette Ventures, LLC". They also state that residents should expect major changes in the next 18 months which is the allotted time HUD had mentioned several months back when they were attempting to auction the properties off. HUD put the price tag at $10,000,000 for renovations that including replacing bathtubs, removing lead paint from railings and replacing the cracked tiling to name just a few. Read more...

*****

November 29, 2012

Movin On Up

That Detroit River water must have some entrepreneurial steroids in it or else I am at a loss of words for all the moving and shaking going on in the city this winter. The Broderick Tower finally opened and is at full capacity, Midtown's Auburn opened up on time and has had positive reviews, Elias & Co. are well on their way to opening up a new tapas bar, meanwhile Supino's is converting the old Ethiopian joint next door to it into a tapas bar as well! Two tapas bars at once? Kinda feels like Chicago, right? Well, maybe the Detroit version of Chicago which is a lot more like Detroit than Chicago but with more people and places then Detroit is typically used to. Read more...

*****

October 29, 2012

Greektown No More

Perhaps the best known block in Metro Detroit is Greektown. Nestled inside the eastern corner of the downtown district and long regarded as the #1 tourist destination for Metro Detroiters for generations, this block of walkable real estate has witnessed a metamorphosis of a less sexy variety than other parts of the city receiving high praise for their "comebacks". Greektown needs no government funding or grant money. It has succeeded on its own merit and stands as perhaps the most popular place for suburbanites to park their cars and *gasp* walk around. Read more...

*****

September 10, 2012

Ted Talk: Brilliant Designs to Fit More People in Every City

Kent Larson explains in a Ted talk in Boston how cities can increase their population without increasing parking. An interesting point he makes is with the 1-mile radius people are willing to walk to reach all the amenities they need. Paris has been built this way and is a role model of walkability. The second point he makes is the need to fit 20, 50, or 100 thousand people into a square mile. In contrast, Detroit's CBD houses roughly 5,000 people.

*****

September 5, 2012

Understanding Corktown's Success

Corktown, a middle-class enclave historically inhabited by Irish immigrants, just west of downtown Detroit has gone through an upheaval over the past half decade, and today stands as a towering example of what is possible through grass-roots participation and youthful naivety+excitement. Read more...

*****

August 6, 2012

Lafayette Park & The Failed Dream of A Garden City

Lafayette Park, the seclusive little neighborhood just east of Greektown in Detroit's "core", has often times been shoved into the spotlight for its famous architect, Mies Van Der Rohe, and because unlike the rest of the city, has yet to fall into the oh so common blight witnessed for miles across Detroit's massive waste land of shoddily constructed single family homes, crack houses, vacant strip malls, and liquor stores. Unfortunately, Lafayette Park isn't quite the glistening slice of sunshine that everyone wishes it to be. Read more...

*****

July 5, 2012

What You Get for $1,000

People across America and even around the world gasp (and drool) at the thought of being able to purchase the American dream for less than what most people pay in rent PER MONTH. Well, the good news is, this isn't an urban legend... Read more... (pictures inside)

*****

June 24, 2012

The Parking Structure Syndrome

Wayne State University recently decided to turn a building on Woodward Avenue, built by famed architect Albert Kahn, into a parking structure. The building wasn't anything spectacular and mainly stood out for the murals drawn on to the sheets of plywood used to board up the building from scrappers and the shelter-impaired. Regardless, people in the community raised their voices in displeasure at seeing another building slated for conversion into a parking structure. It looks like a big institution is ignoring the interests of the city and its residents in favor of creating another gap in the urban fabric. That isn't the full story though. Read more...

*****

May 18, 2012

DEMF is here

The Detroit Electronic Music Festival is one week away and the city is buzzing. Scores of techno-craven tourists will flood the city and mix with hundreds of thousands of suburbanites and everyone will pretend that they "know" Detroit and everything would be great if only [insert excuse here].

This blog is about real estate and development in the city, but DEMF is bigger than that, so this post pays homage to the electronic beat gods by helping Detroiters deal with the influx of out-of-towners and make us feel like New Yorkers having to pass through Time Square during New Years Eve celebrations. Read more...

*****

May 11, 2012

Detroit Works Project: Long-Term

I had the privilege of attending the Southwest Detroit community conversation yesterday, held by the Detroit Works Project, a community out-reach program intended to listen to the community and use that feedback to create a long-term plan for the city of Detroit. The DWP has been running since 2010 and are now winding down in their analysis and working to present/defend their ideas to the citizens.

What is the plan to save the city? Read more...

*****

May 5, 2012

Attention: Beautiful Building for Auction

We don't have much information on this building other then that it's in a great location on 241 Chene, near the riverfront and riverwalk and walking distance to downtown and I walked by it and surveyed the property and it seems to be in working order. The building was used as a food processing facility by Lauhoff Co. (defunct, apparently) and was established in 1937. The building was built in 1880 though (historic tax credits, please?), has approximately 18,800 square feet and is 2 stories, according to public records.

The auction is taking place online on RJM Auctions website from May 2-8. We'd love to have it turned into lofts/studios/restaurant/bar/gallery/etc... to make better use of the up and coming area (also close by the Dequindre Cut).

*****

April 27, 2012

What does Detroit need?

I was listening to a conversation on NPR a few days ago and they were discussing how to keep the people still living in Detroit, to stay here. A rather novel idea, considering 1 in 4 Detroiters chose to flee over the past decade. One caller threatened that he would leave unless his car insurance rate went down and he claimed the best way to fix the city would be to lower property taxes (his home is taxed at $23,000 but he claims it's only worth $11,000). The radio host quickly explained to him that the city has no control over car insurance rates. His property definitely should be taxed at its real value, so he has a legitimate gripe with the city, however lowering his property taxes probably won't fix the city's finances. His comments got me thinking though, Detroit needs more than development projects and more walkable streets. Read more...

*****

April 26, 2012

Condos in Detroit -- What's the deal?

I've been a realtor for about five weeks. Just long enough to start noticing trends. Some trends, I expect to see. For instance, we get lots of calls about properties and people are stunned when the price is above pocket-change. For the record, NO, you cannot purchase a livable home for $1,000! If you want to live in a nice area, with lights, shops, restaurants, etc... think about $100,000+. The thing that does surprise me though, are two well known condo buildings that constantly have plenty of units for sale. Read more...

*****

April 24, 2012

Dreaming about a better Detroit

I just returned from a weekend trip to New York City where I was genuinely floored by the amount of activity going on EVERYWHERE! I've been there before, I know they have 15 million people living in 1/3 the space of our fair city and it's the political/cultural/financial capital of America (Sorry D.C.). But they've still had their downs over the years. It used to be referred to as "New Jack City" and the "Capital of Crack" in the 80's and early 90's. So, how did the city make such a revolutionary comeback? And can Detroit learn something from it? Read more...

*****

Date: April 19, 2012

How to get your realtor to work for you!


If you understand this diagram, please contact me for an honorary degree in photosynthesis.

Most people I know are quite adept at basic economics. They understand that, in general, eliminating the middle man reduces cost. In the Real Estate industry, the realtor is the middle man. Thus, the logic follows, I can use Zillow or Trulia to find the house that I want, negotiate the price directly with the listing agent and save some cash! Not so fast... Read more...

*****

Date: April 18, 2012

The truth about Detroits vacant land

National Public Radio has recently questioned the oft repeated statistic about Detroits problem with vacant land. That statistic states that we have 40 square miles of it, roughly the size of San Francisco or Miami. The problem with that statistic is that it isn't true. And in their investigation, they couldn't find anyone to explain exactly how that number came about. Read more...

*****

Date: April 17, 2012

Not every property in Detroit is created equal

Detroit has a new energy that can only be explained as the after-sex glow. The city's hot right now and everyone wants a piece of the action. Only problem is there is a HUGE disconnect between reality and expectations when it comes to the almighty $. Read more...

*****

Date: April 16, 2012

Why Detroit should matter to you!

Detroit boasts a population of just over 700,000 residents while Metro Detroit has a population of around 5 million. So it's safe to say most of "Detroiters" are not really from Detroit, but the outlying suburbs. So why should the suburbanites care what is going on in Detroit? Read more...

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