The 36,000-square-foot 1265 Griswold building, at the southwest corner of Griswold Street and Grand River, borders Capitol Park. (David Coates / The Detroit News)
Detroit— Quicken Loans founder and Chairman Dan Gilbert on Tuesday added two more buildings to his growing downtown empire.
Rock Ventures, the umbrella entity that controls Gilbert’s portfolio of companies, announced the purchase of unoccupied buildings at 1505 Woodward Ave. and 1265 Griswold St. Both structures will be transformed into mixed-use spaces.
“Demand for state-of-the-art retail, office and residential space in Detroit continues to grow,” said Jim Ketai, Bedrock’s managing partner. “Our plan is to transform these abandoned and neglected buildings into creative, thriving spaces to accommodate the growing demand of businesses that are joining the ‘Opportunity Detroit’ mission and locating their operations downtown.”
Including parking structures, Rock Ventures owns about 40 downtown properties encompassing 8 million square feet, the company said.
Jim Bieri, principal of Stokas Bieri Real Estate downtown, applauded the latest Gilbert purchase, and said he wasn’t concerned about one entity owning so much property.
“I think the positive force Mr. Gilbert is putting forward is fabulous for the city,” he said. “His vision, capital and expertise can allow for a merchandise plan to repopulate the retail space. Individual landlords weren’t going to do that.”
The 1505 Woodward building is on the northwest corner of Woodward and Clifford Street. The eight-story, 48,000-square-foot structure was designed by renowned architect Albert Kahn and built in 1931. Its original tenant was the Richman Brothers clothing store.
The 1265 Griswold building, at the southwest corner of Griswold Street and Grand River, borders Capitol Park. The 36,000-square-foot, six-story structure was originally known as the Bamlet Building and was built in 1897 by architectural firm Spier & Rohns.
Gilbert’s empire could soon expand even more.
Rock Ventures is still in talks to buy what is known as the Bates Garage property on Monroe and Randolph, including a historic building. The historic building is the National Theater — said to be the last surviving theater designed by Kahn. Talks are ongoing and no deal has been sealed.
Eric Larson, managing partner of Bedrock Real Estate Services, said this in a Monday email: “We have had conversations with the city about the National Theater and are exploring options to preserve the architectural history and legacy it represents.”