Quicken Loans founder Dan Gilbert told a crowd at the North American International Auto Show in Detroit that the election of Donald Trump as President could be a very good thing for the city.
Gilbert has bought nearly 100 properties and brought tens of thousands of employees to downtown Detroit.
But he says growth in cities like Detroit is hindered by some federal regulations Gilbert describes as “silliness,” rules that he says do little more than add costs onto businesses that are then passed on to consumers.
Gilbert says President-elect Trump’s work in real estate makes him intimately familiar with the problems posed by those regulations.
“Whether you love him or hate him or whatever, the fact that he is a real estate developer is probably a good thing for urban cores,” Gilbert said. “Because (Trump) developed real estate he understands the challenges that businesses and companies and developers would have in urban cores. So it appears he could be very good for cities.
“Like any politician, and he is one now, we’ll have to wait and see,” Gilbert added.
Gilbert says one of Trump’s toughest jobs will be convincing corporations to stop spending overseas and instead invest in the U.S.
The Quicken Loans founder also says Detroit needs to make an investment in additional space in the downtown area for corporations. Gilbert says he is finding Detroit is so short on office space ready for occupancy that he is being forced to relocate some of the roughly 15,000 employees he brought to the city’s business district.
Gilbert told an audience at the North American International Auto Show that despite numerous empty store fronts, downtown Detroit has few areas that could immediately accommodate corporate operations.
He says that is slowing development in Detroit’s central core.
“(There is just) zero office space available in downtown Detroit,” Gilbert said. “In fact we have a 50,000 square foot tenant we’re going to announce in a week or so. And we have to displace Quicken Loans employees. We’re gonna have to put ‘em someplace else to get (the new tenant) in here because we want this company here. I always believe it’s sort of grow or die,” he said.
Gilbert is also pushing to get a new development on the site of the old J.L Hudson department store in downtown Detroit.