The New York Times published a fascinating piece on a billionaire's investment in a two-square-mile area of downtown Detroit. My guess is that Dan Gilbert, worth $3.5 billion, will be a lot richer in a few years as a result of his massive and growing real estate holdings in the Motor City. Gilbert, the founder of Quicken Loans, moved 7,600 employees downtown and has renovated buildings with 80 startup and small companies. An MIT professor, Brent Ryan, doesn't believe Detroit's downtown can revive in the face of a shrinking regional economy, but we disagree. It's true that downtowns in growing regions will be generally stronger, but the lure of downtown is so strong now that it will overcome the regional factor. Central Detroit has too many assets — great historic architecture, world-class cultural institutions, medical and academic assets, jobs — to not grow in value given today's demand for urban living. Much of the rest of Detroit, however, will likely languish for a long time.
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