Coming Home to Detroit

oming Home to Detroit
  • The Detroit Homecoming is a great annual event that recruits former residents to come back and see the exciting, new growth.
  • There are a lot of cool new real estate developments being built in the City.
  • Detroit’s growth presents a cool, interesting opportunity for real estate developers and investors.

First let me start by saying I am sorry for missing last week’s blog entry. I know there must have been tens of people disappointed. But we are back this week.

Last year around this time, I wrote an article about the return of Detroit. I had been there to visit and toured a lot of the new developments being built. As someone who grew up in the Metro Detroit area, it was exciting to see.

About a week and a half ago, I returned for my second trip to the Detroit Homecoming. I again got to meet with people doing exciting projects, see some cool developments, and get excited all over again for my hometown. So I figured I would give a little update in this space about what is going on there.

What is the Detroit Homecoming?

About a year and a half ago, a fellow Detroit expat here in Austin told me about the Detroit Homecoming. He had been there previously and really enjoyed it and learned a lot about what was going on in the city. It is sponsored by Crain’s Detroit Business and is really a celebration of the revitalization of Detroit.

The goal is to get folks who grew up in the Metro Detroit area but then left to come back and visit. And see all that is going on with Detroit’s rebirth. The Homecoming attempts to leverage the financial, social, and human capital of the former Detroit area residents to stimulate the economic and social progress of the City. The Homecoming team has tallied more than $606 million in economic impact from local initiatives and projects led by or invested into by expats after attending the event.

The Homecoming truly is a great event. It consists of:

Panel discussions that have fantastic guest speakers including the Mayor of Detroit, the CEO of Ford Motor Company, Meg Whitman, etc.The panel topics are wide ranging, including development, social improvement of the city, entrepreneurial activity in the City, etc.
The panel discussions are held at the new Mike Illitch School of Business at Wayne State University.

Tours of the new developments throughout the City.
A happy hour at a very cool restaurant overlooking Beacon Park.

Real Estate Focus

While there are many topics discussed during the Homecoming, being a real estate lawyer and investor, I am obviously most drawn to the real estate discussions. As a result, I was extremely interested to see some of the new developments going on in Detroit. A few of the exciting ones are:

Michigan Central Station – Its hard to start anywhere else but the old central train station in Detroit. It had been vacant and abandoned since 1988. And then Ford bought it to turn into an innovation hub. It plans to have employees in it by the end of 2022.
Hudson’s site – Back in the Detroit heyday, the Hudson’s building was the premiere retailer in downtown Detroit. Hudson abandoned the site in 1983. But it is currently being developed into a mixed-use retail/office/hotel/residential space.
Godfrey Hotel – A new boutique hotel with a rooftop lounge being developed in Corktown.
Meijer Rivertown Market – A desperately needed neighborhood grocery store has recently opened in what was a food desert area.

The Future of Detroit

Detroit has been on the rebound for the last few years. It’s a hot market. Having said that, there is no doubt that COVID hurt its progress. But as we emerge from COVID, the Detroit rebirth has rebounded. When I was there recently, the amount of development and growth was very exciting. I think it’s a great investment opportunity for real estate developers. (Full disclosure – my investment company owns 20 multifamily units near Wayne State University).

I know I sound like a cheerleader in this article, but I’m proud of Detroit. The Homecoming is a terrific event. Its so fun to go back there and see all the exciting developments and progress. And maybe next year when I go, I’ll get to tour Mom’s Spaghetti.

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