Dan Gilbert

Detroit has been getting somewhat of a makeover in the last few years, considering all the businesses, like Whole Foods, that have come downtown to open up new shops and help bring people back into the city.

Quicken Loans Founder and Chairman Dan Gilbert has helped create this new outlook for Detroit, and he plans to work on several projects that will help make the city great again. According to an article by John Gallagher of the Detroit Free Press, Gilbert plans to, among other things, expand and improve the Campus Martius area. “Outlining his vision for a livelier downtown, Gilbert talked of Parisian-style sidewalk cafes, food carts, ground-floor retail that opens onto sidewalks, ice cream kiosks, pedestrian plazas and walkways, and a host of other ‘placemaking’ techniques that he said were on the way,” Gallagher said in the article.

A livelier downtown area could attract more people to spend time in the city, helping generate revenue.

This news from Gilbert has interested many people, including two Wayne State freshmen, Joseph Lombardo and Kirk Bennett. Lombardo found out about the project from news articles, while Bennett first learned of it on the website Curbed Detroit.

“I’ve seen that (Dan Gilbert) has been buying a lot of buildings downtown, like the Z lot,” Bennett said. “He plans to buy the Z lot and plans to build a parking garage and retail space. And yesterday, at this Opportunity Detroit conference — that Hudson’s lot, I guess he owns that too — he’s offering $15,000 to whoever can come up with the best idea to put on the Hudson’s lot. It just has to include a lot of retail,” Bennett said. Hart Plaza is one of the other areas that will be upgraded, according to Lombardo.

“I think overall it’s great, especially the part of fixing up the already existing plazas that honestly are still pretty good right now,” he said. “I think in making them great or making them really nice is a great strategy to go through. I think basically any renovation to downtown Detroit is great as long as the money going into it is used efficiently.

So, I mean, I’m not totally up and up on how efficiently his plans are going to be, but I hope they are because I am excited for it.”

“I think he’ll do a good job, but it does kind of worry me that he owns all of the buildings because we are kind of relying on him to do what’s right instead of what’s just profitable for him,” Bennett said.

The project is slated to begin next year.

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