Gilbert Doubles Down on Downtown Detroit With Ambitious Placemaking Plan

Rather than succumb to the negative news surrounding Detroit's dire financial situation, businessman and booster Dan Gilbert is doubling down on his extensive investment in the city with an ambitious effort to enliven downtown's public spaces.
March 29, 2013, 11am PDT | Jonathan Nettler | @nettsj
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A new upscale grocery store, new retail storefronts, activated parks and plazas, and pedestrian amenities are part of the broad “Placemaking Vision For Downtown Detroit” unveiled this week by Dan Gilbert.

"As early as this summer, the Quicken Loans Inc. chairman said Thursday, downtown workers and visitors will see planned infrastructure upgrades to Grand Circus and Capitol parks," reports Daniel Howes. "In the works are outdoor cafes, a beer garden, concerts, movies, new landscaping and upgrades to the ground floors of Gilbert-owned buildings."

"'A big chunk of this is going to happen this summer,' he told a crowd of roughly 400 downtown business owners and supporters crammed into the City Theater. 'Agreed upon. Funded. What Detroit doesn't need is a grand plan that's 50 years out, 20 years out, 10 years out.'"

"'We're all in,' said the mortgage impresario, who less than three years ago began moving his companies downtown from Livonia and since has acquired 22 buildings in the city. 'We have no Plan B because if we did, we believe it would distract from Plan A.'"

Developed with the assistance of the Project for Public Spaces, Terremark, Shook Kelly and Gibbs Planning Group, the over-arching goals of the plan are "[t]o create street-level energy that is inviting and comfortable. And, second, to use the bones of Detroit's past — its historic buildings and iconic parks — to chart the city's future with investment that builds density by bringing people (and market demand) back downtown," says Howes.

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Published on Friday, March 29, 2013 in The Detroit News
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