Solving Cities

Detroit 2.0: A CEO's vision for downtown Detroit

Detroit 2.0: A CEO's vision for downtown Detroit

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The CEO of Quicken Loans wants to help create Detroit 2.0. The first step is moving thousands of workers to downtown office. Find out why the move is crucial for his company.

Dan Gilbert is buying up properties in downtown Detroit at a dizzying pace.

The founder of Quicken Loans, and owner of nearly a dozen properties -- around 1.8 million square feet -- in downtown Detroit, doesn't just think downtown is a good business investment, he sees it as a good place to do business. His vision: Detroit 2.0.

That's why he's been in the process of moving thousands of his Quicken Loans workers to downtown.

Nate Berg, of The Atlantic Cities, spoke with Gilbert to better understand why his company is moving out of a suburban office park and into downtown. Here's Gilbert on why the move is crucial to his company:

People in their 20s and 30s, the best and brightest coming out of our universities, the vast majority of them want to be in a cool urban core in a hip city. Period. So, if we’re going to retain and maintain talent in our companies and have innovative creative people, we’ve got to make sure that we’re in the right locations that are going to generate the interest of those people. All of our businesses are Internet-related, technology-related, entertainment-related businesses. So thinking we’re going to do that in a suburban setting where people have to walk a couple hundred yards across asphalt in the middle of winter, it’s probably not going cut it for the kind of folks that we’re trying to attract. Kids don’t leave suburban Detroit to go to suburban Chicago or suburban New York or suburban L.A. They’re going to the downtowns. Most of the activity and the kinds of areas and the companies that are attractive to people who are the best and brightest in our view want to be in the urban core.

To further encourage its workers to live near their new offices, Quicken Loans, and other businesses located in downtown, started the Live Downtown program which offers thousands of dollars in financial incentives to buy or rent in downtown, near their new offices.

For years companies have been working to build their image as leaders in sustainability. Will the coming years see a push by more companies to build their image as hip, urban companies? Will more companies follow the lead of Quicken Loans and move downtown to attract young talent?

Downtown Detroit's Big Booster [Atlantic Cities]

Photo: ifmuth/Flickr

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Tyler Falk

Contributing Editor

Tyler Falk is a freelance journalist based in Washington, D.C. Previously, he was with Smart Growth America and Grist. He holds a degree from Goshen College. Follow him on Twitter. Disclosure