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Gilbert plans office space, retail and lofts for new Woodward acquisitions

Dan Gilbert's entrepreneurial empire continues to grow in Downtown Detroit, helping the central business district evolve with the purchase and planned renovation of three more buildings on Woodward Avenue just south of Grand Circus Park.

Gilbert is moving Quicken Loans headquarters and a variety of his other businesses to downtown Detroit, while recruiting other firms to move or open up offices downtown. The most recent achievement is the opening of the Madison Theatre Building, an incubator-like building that serves as the home of a number of growing start-ups and established creative-based businesses.

Gilbert has now acquired most of the line of buildings on the east side of Woodward between John R and Grand Circus Park. The most recent acquisition include the Lane Bryant, Arts League of Michigan and Wright-Kay buildings. His commercial real-estate firm, Bedrock Management, plans to turn them into a combination of retail, loft and office space that will mirror the style of the Madison Theatre Building redevelopment.

"It's an open office environment," says Jim Ketai, managing partner of Bedrock Management. "It's very collaborative. It's a great open office feel."

The Wright-Kay Building, at the corner of John R and Woodward, is the signature structure of the block. The circa 1891-structure will be transformed into ground floor retail below a combination of office spaces and lofts. The 45,000-square-foot Lane Bryant Building, 1520 Woodward, will become primarily office space above retail. The Arts League of Michigan Building, six stories with 43,000 square foot at 1528 Woodward, will also offer a mix of retail and office space.

Bedrock plans to emphasize the retail-portion of the redevelopment as part of its overall plan to reinvigorate downtown with more foot traffic and human energy. The office space-part of the redevelopment will also play a similar role.

"We figure its a great place to start the revitalization with retail and office space," Ketai says.

Gilbert's companies now control 1.8 million square feet of space and nearly 2,750 parking spaces in Detroit's Central Business District. He plans to turn the section of Woodward between Campus Martius and Grand Circus Park into a Silicon Valley-style entrepreneurial district that is now being branded as Webward Avenue.

Source: Jim Ketai, managing partner of Bedrock Management
Writer: Jon Zemke

Read more about Metro Detroit's growing entrepreneurial ecosystem at SEMichiganStartup.com.
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