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August 09, 2007 - Image 26

Resource type:
The Detroit Jewish News, 2007-08-09

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Business I

Up With Woodward from page 25



he face of Woodward
Avenue in downtown
Detroit would change again
if Jewish business entrepreneur-
sportsman Dan Gilbert of Franklin
moves his Quicken Loans-Rock
Financial mortgage headquarters to
what is now a parking lot on the east
side of Woodward, just north of the
Compuware Corp. building
Quicken Loans apparently is
studying two possible sites for a
move, either the Woodward lot,
known as the "Hudson's site" – loca-
tion of the former J.L. Hudson Co.
– or the "Statler site" – named
after the former Statler-Hilton Hotel
– next to the old United Artists
Theatre building at Washington
Boulevard and Grand Circus Park,
right around the corner from
The city-owned Hudson's site is
next to Compuware HQ, whose chair-
man is Peter Karmanos Jr., owner
of the National Hockey League's
Carolina Hurricanes. The Statler
site's main owner is Hitch Holdings,
which operates the Detroit Tigers
and Red Wings. Quicken Chairman
Gilbert is majority owner of the
National Basketball Association's
Cleveland Cavaliers and a minor
league Cleveland hockey team.
In either case, Quicken apparently
is certain to be rounding up its near-
ly 5,000 employees from several
locations in Livonia, Farmington Hills,
Southfield and Troy and heading
downtown. The company adds close
to 200 new employees a month.
Even Livonia city officials concede
they're losing the nation's largest
online home mortgage company.
Insiders say Quicken, state and
Detroit officials have crafted a $200
million package that includes the
company's investment and various
tax abatements, credits and incen-
tives. Quicken officials won't com-
ment about the move.
Gilbert, 45, grew up in Southfield
and graduated from Michigan
State University and Wayne State
University's Law School in Detroit.
He, his brother, Gary, now an inde-
pendent movie producer living in
Hollywood, and Lindsay Gross of
Franklin founded Rock Financial with
$5,000 in 1985 in a small Southfield

- Bill Carroll


August 9 • 2007

where he also has an office for his Cass Ave. Development
Inc. Landy, 53, is a Cass Tech High School dropout who
ran a sports and import car repair shop for 25 years, then
gradually got into the Detroit real estate development busi-
ness because of his love for the city.
A Detroit activist and member of the Woodward Avenue
Action Association, Landy says he's "a firm believer in
diversity, where the whites and the African Americans and
rich and the poor should live together" He has helped
provide downtown shelters for the homeless and worked to
"There's very little turnover, and we usually have 100-percent occu-
clean the drug addicts out of the areaAlso, I believe I've really assisted
pancy; the lofts all have high ceilings, exposed duct work and a lot of
the Jewish builders by convincing City Council to make building code
brick because that's what loft-dwellers wane,' said David Farbman of
changes and revise the appraisal procedure,' he noted.
"I have no kids, but a lot of buildings," mused the divorced Landy
"It proves what we've been saying all along: People want downtown
as he peered from the top of the Addison Hotel at Woodward and
living spaces. A loft craze is taking hold downtown, and the infra-
Charlotte over his real estate empire in the Cass Corridor, bounded
structure certainly is there as a result of the Super Bowl, the baseball
by Woodward, the Lodge Freeway, Jefferson and Warren. He owns 45
All-Star game, the new Compuware and YMCA buildings and other
buildings with both residential and commercial space — seven facing
new places. Eventually, I think about 10 percent of the customers will
Woodward — which he bought for less than $100,000 each.
be Jewish. I feel that many young Jews especially want to return to the
"And they're now worth between $1 million and $10 million each:'
city; they just have to make a commitment to do it:"
he says. "I started buying them on land contracts. I've also bought,
Farbman, 35, is co-president with his brother Andrew of the
renovated and sold three schools that were shuttered. I consider this
Farbman Group, formed 31 years ago by their father, Burton, who
sort of community work, for which I get plaques, not a lot of money"
founded the business and is now semi-retired. The firm, which owns
The 102-year-old Addison, which shined in the renaissance of
major buildings throughout the city and has projects all over down-
Detroit commercial development a century ago, also had been closed;
town, handles development of more than 20 million square feet of real
but Landy renovated the 450-room structure and there are now 40
estate in the Detroit area and is Michigan's largest private real estate
residents. The Atlas Restaurant opened in the Addison three years ago
facing Woodward where a drugstore stood. The eatery is now popular
with theater-goers.

Schostak, Too

Also getting in on the downtown action is Livonia-based Schostak
Brothers & Co. Inc., founded 85 years ago by Louis H. Schostak and
then operated by his son, Jerry. Now, Jerry's sons David and Robert
are co-presidents and son Mark is head of the restaurant division.
The company has the Lofts at Merchant Row, two buildings with 157
loft-style apartments of 900 or 2,000 square feet, on the west side of
Woodward near Campus Martius.
"The renters are people with a wide variety of lifestyles, but most of
them are empty-nesters who have a real desire to now live in an urban
setting;' said a Schostak spokeswoman.
The buildings have retail stores on the lower level, such as the
Detroit Breakfast House & Grill, Woodward Day Spa, clothes stores and

Landy Effect

Joel Landy is probably the only Jewish developer who actually still
lives in Detroit — on Charlotte Street in the heart of the Cass Corridor

Guiding Woodward
In Highland Park


s it continues north on its 27-
mile journey from downtown
to Pontiac, Woodward Avenue
goes through the city of Highland Park;
and the road's development there has
felt a strong Jewish influence, due mainly
to the efforts of Harriet Saperstein, who
lives on Detroit's Chateaufort Street near
Lafayette Park. She's a University of
Michigan sociology graduate, who then
made a career out of urban development
because she strongly believes in "repair-
ing the community."
Saperstein was president of the
Highland Park Development Corp. (HP
DEVCO) for 17 years, which was estab-
lished to remake the city after the

Sterling, Ram, Berger

Further north on Woodward, the Sterling Group, a Detroit real
estate firm founded by Gary Torgow of Oak Park in 1988, and Ram
Development Co., founded by Peter Cummings of Bloomfield Hills in
1978, joined forces to develop the Ellington. Situated in Detroit's mid-
town district at Woodward and Mack Ave., the Ellington has 55 lofts,
with 70 percent sold. Sterling developed the Compuware Building on
Woodward downtown and owns several other old-time Detroit build-
At Woodward and Kirby, the venerable old Park Shelton Hotel, built
in 1926, has gone condo. Jewish developers Walter Cohen and Stanley
Berger bought the hotel 25 years ago and now operate it under the
Berger Realty Group. Half of the 226 units are sold, going for $95,000 to
"The buyers are mainly empty-nesters, doctors from the nearby
medical center and Wayne students:' according to sales consultant
Michael Martovelli.

Chrysler Corp. headquarters
left for Auburn Hills. She guided
more than $60 million in real
estate development projects
on or near Woodward, person-
ally recruiting several new
businesses along the way. She
still serves as chairperson of
the Woodward Ave. Action
Highland Park Woodward projects
include redevelopment of part of the
old Chrysler site by Stuart Frenkel
Development Co.; 200 rental homes and
30 stores in Town Center at Woodward
and Manchester, created by Jewish devel-
oper Richard Baron, a former Detroiter
now with a St. Louis firm; 200 units
in Benjamin Manor just off Woodward;
Model T Plaza, mostly stores, anchored
by Glory Supermarket, along Woodward
on the former Ford Motor Co. plant site;

the Highland Park Blueprint for
Downtown, an ongoing program with
businesspeople in the 2.9-square-
mile city with about 16,000 popula-
tion, and other projects.
"They key to fixing up any area is
to strongly care about the city and
to persuade outside developers to
want to come in and be part of the
community," said Saperstein, 70, a native
New Yorker, who got interested in urban
development in the city of Detroit after
the 1967 riots. "And you have to show pro-
spective residents that there'll be plenty
of stores for all their needs." Saperstein,
a Reconstructionist Jew who believes in
diversity and an integrated community,
retired from HP Devco last March, but
plans to teach. Her husband, Alvin, is a
Wayne State University physics professor
and they have two adult children.

- Bill Carroll

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