A DOWNTOWN DILEMMA: Quicken considers a move to Detroit; two key sites spark pros, cons debate
BY JOHN GALLAGHER
FREE PRESS BUSINESS WRITER
It's unanimous: Detroit's civic and corporate leaders all hope Quicken Loans founder Dan Gilbert will move his company downtown.
But far from unanimous, and sparking debate in Detroit development circles, is where in downtown Gilbert should relocate his Livonia-based company, if and when he decides to come.
The key question is: Which of the two sites offered to Gilbert would produce more spin-off benefits for downtown, bringing downtown closer to its goal of becoming a lively, walkable, 24-hour community?
The two parcels offered include the site of the old Hudson's store, demolished in 1998, and an irregular site off Grand Circus Park that once housed the now-demolished Statler and Tuller hotels and vacant United Artists Theater.
Of course, Detroit's leaders would welcome Quicken to either site should Gilbert decide to move.
"I'd be happy with them being in Detroit, period," George Jackson, the city's chief development officer and president of the Detroit Economic Growth Corp., said.
But as Gilbert mulls a decision, two camps have evolved. And both have strong arguments for each of the sites.
Quicken looked at other locations, including General Motors Corp.-owned riverfront just east of the Renaissance Center. It also has considered buying an existing office building, such as Comerica Tower at 500 Woodward.
But the Hudson's and Statler-Tuller sites are the main ones under consideration, according to Jackson and others close to the negotiations...
The Ilitch family, owner of the Tigers, Red Wings, Fox Theatre and other holdings, owns a portion of the Statler-Tuller site [and United Artists Building]. The family, which declined to comment for this article, hopes to lure Quicken to that site to bolster overall redevelopment in the vicinity.
And that could become an important consideration if the family decides to build a new hockey arena for the Red Wings behind the Fox.
The arena is something that the Ilitches have been weighing for more than a year, although no decision has been announced.
But two other factors may play into Gilbert's decision, assuming he makes the move.
Cost is one. The Hudson's site is development-ready, complete with a 1,100-space city-owned parking garage operating below ground, as well as foundations already in place for a future building.
No such foundations or parking exist at the Statler-Tuller parcel, so building there would be more expensive.
The second consideration is the matter of prestige. People close to the negotiations say that Gilbert, should he choose to come, fears that locating on the Hudson's site might seem like taking second place to Compuware's headquarters...(Complete Story)
Contact JOHN GALLAGHER at 313-222-5173 or firstname.lastname@example.org.