Quicken Loans founder and developer Dan Gilbert got the city of Detroit and state officials to give his development companies free land and hundreds of millions of dollars in tax incentives by promising to turn downtown into a walkable urban center with public plazas and a skyscraper that would be a “landmark destination," Jennifer Dixon of the Detroit Free Press reports.
But experts tell the Freep that deal is fraught with concerns.
The city’s Downtown Development Authority and the Michigan Economic Development Corp. didn’t demand that Gilbert’s real estate and development company, Bedrock Detroit, document how it intended to finance construction of the skyscraper at the site of the former J.L. Hudson flagship store, and a 35-story office tower and four other buildings on the Monroe block.
Good governance experts say requiring a developer to disclose financing plans is basic due diligence for a project using public money to build millions of square feet of office, residential, retail, hotel and event space.
Accepting the word of an ambitious billionaire was a gamble by officials who should have insisted on the kind of proof usually required for a typical real estate deal, a Free Press analysis concludes.