The Real Estate Executive Council (REEC) 15th anniversary spring meeting convened on the Westin Book Cadillac Detroit Hotel for three days May 3-5, seeking to increase and enhance access amongst its members and others in the real estate industry, thereby enabling their membership to profit and grow.
Since its inception, the Real Estate Executive Council has been a not-for-profit professional trade association composed of minority men and women working in the commercial real estate industry. These individuals come from varying backgrounds all culminating in professional careers allied to investment, management, leasing, financing, and property development.
One of the many panels at the conference titled, “Resurgence of Detroit: Then and Now – What is to come? What is unfinished?”, featured Marvin Beatty, Vice-President of Community and Public Relations for Jack Detroit Casino-Hotel Greektown, Bedrock President Dan Mullen, Develop Detroit President and CEO Sonya Mays, and James Arthur Jemison, Director of Housing and Revitalization Department for the city of Detroit, and spoke about urban development in the city and its prospects for the future.
“The energy here among the philanthropic community, among small and medium sized investors, is really unique and stronger than any other place I’ve been,” said Jemison. “I would say that what we are missing is more institutional capital involved in some of the ventures. Bedrock has done a great job in bringing their capital here, but I think we need other capital to be here investing in housing and other land uses.”
Beatty, who has been involved with the city of Detroit in some capacity since 1980, praised real estate mogul Dan Gilbert and Mayor Mike Duggan for their roles in revitalizing Detroit through land usage and getting the city’s finances under control. Earlier in the week, the city of Detroit was released from all financial oversight by the state.
“You get a mayor elected that is white and that has made the real difference here in Detroit,” Beatty said. “And let’s not cut any corners; that has a made a difference in this community. That has made a difference in the economics in this community.”
“To Dan Gilbert’s credit, who has clearly led the leadership that has changed the face of what Detroit looks like, his intensity in relationship to bringing businesses to Detroit, has been that there is no other place in Michigan that you should go. When you have those kinds of salespeople in a city that has been depressed, it makes the investment dollar go further.”
Duggan also spoke at the convention, putting the news and talk of Detroit’s bankruptcy in the rear view, focusing on the future of the city, and why it is a great place for future investment. The main topic of his speech was land usage and how to distribute it among housing, commercial, and retail developers.
“Most of the development that you see so far has been from long-time Detroiters,” said Duggan. “But now, we’re starting to get attention nationally and internationally. I think it’s a great time for people to be here. One-third of all the city land in Detroit is held by city government, as hard as that is to believe. We are trying to be thoughtful in the way we go about this to make sure that everyone is included.”
Attendees of the REEC spring meeting were able to take a tour of Detroit, highlighting the development around downtown, Little Caesars Arena, Midtown, Corktown, Eastern Market, and West Village. Those areas of the city have been hotbeds for residential, retail, and commercial development.
The final day of the conference, local minority developers discussed developments led by Detroit-based developers of color and RFP projects for the city of Detroit at the Honigman Miller Schwartz and Cohn headquarters in downtown.