Gilbert getting back into flow of work 8 months after stroke

Louis Aguilar
The Detroit News

Detroit — After a life-changing stroke, Quicken Loans founder and Chairman Dan Gilbert is going to work at his downtown headquarters one to two days a week and he's already trying to focus on two of his biggest downtown developments in the works. 

Eight months after his stroke, the self-made billionaire is far from his legendary hard-driving pace, he conceded in his first post-stroke interview to Crain’s Detroit Business. 

Gilbert, 58, uses a wheelchair and is partnered with a service dog, Cowboy. He walks with a cane but struggles to move his left arm. He said he just returned to work “a few weeks ago.” 

Gilbert told Crain’s Detroit Business that he's focused on finishing two of his biggest downtown Detroit developments: the estimated $1 billion Hudson's block development and a University of Michigan "Innovation Center" on the edge of Greektown. The UM Innovation Center is a joint effort that also involves real estate mogul, Stephen Ross, chairman of the New York-based Related Companies LP. 

The Hudson's development may or may not include the city's tallest building, Gilbert said. 

Quicken Loans founder and Chairman Dan Gilbert

Bedrock has not yet announced the anchor tenant for the mixed-use development on Woodward Avenue. It's in the former block where the Hudson's department store was located. 

Gilbert added the planned UM Innovation Center is "starting to heat up."

Meanwhile, Gilbert said he's still on a long path to recovery after his stroke on May 25 and told Crain's he doesn't have any cognitive issues.

“When you have a stroke, here’s the problem with it: Everything is hard. Everything,” Gilbert said. “Like you wake up, getting out of bed is hard, going to the bathroom is hard, sitting down eating at a table is hard. You name it. You don’t get a break. You’re like trapped in your own body.”

Dan Gilbert has a short interview with CNN journalist Lisa Ling during Gateway '17 conference in Detroit, Michigan on June 20, 2017.

Gilbert owns the NBA’s Cleveland Cavaliers and several other sports teams. In 2010, he moved Quicken Loans headquarters from the suburbs to downtown. He quickly then went on a “skyscraper sale” and entities tied to Gilbert’s Bedrock now own more than 100 downtown properties. Bedrock and its affiliates are now the city's largest employer, with more than 17,000 workers.  

Gilbert spent eight weeks at a rehabilitation center in Chicago last summer.

Gilbert said he began to wonder why Detroit doesn’t have a stroke rehabilitation center. “I have the fortunate situation of having resources. I start thinking about, imagine people who just don't have any of these resources? What do they do? I mean, insurance does not usually cover most of the … rehab from a stroke. Maybe some of it, but not most of it.”