Crain's Detroit Business, May 13, 2024

Page 1

year travel in ation eases?

Detroit has ‘best ingredients’ for mobility startup

When Justin Kosmides moved to Detroit in September, he knew his new residence had to be in Corktown so he could walk his dog, Artie, to work. e neighborhood is the home of Newlab at Michigan Central, where Kosmides works on his startup, Bloom.

Born and raised in Maryland, Kosmides, 36, spent several years in New York while he worked on his rst startup, Vela, an electric bicycle company, at Newlab’s space in Brooklyn. Vela moved its production to Detroit two years ago, he said, because of the city’s history in mobility.

“We saw a lot of bene t in moving our production to Detroit and closer to our consumers,” Kosmides said of Vela.

When he and his co-founder,

Friedman Real Estate’s ownership of the 500 tower of the Renaissance Center didn’t last long at all.

e same day in December 2023 that the Farmington Hillsbased real estate company purchased the 500 and 600 towers on the Detroit riverfront, it turned around and sold the former to Hallandale Beach, Fla.-based Kawa Private Investments LLC.

e string of sales transactions for the two twin o ce buildings adjacent to the main General Motors Co. complex are documented in Wayne County, city and title records.

Chris Nolte, developed the idea for Bloom, it made sense to stay in the Motor City.

Bloom is a business-to-business vertical integration platform for the mobility revolution, said Kosmides, the co-founder and president. at is, Bloom partners with electric mobility companies with vehicles smaller than cars and trucks — including scooters, e-bikes, cargo bikes, dirt bikes and motorcycles — and acts as a concierge, facilitating the company’s servicing, sourcing, production and more. For clients on its platform, Bloom “provides access to a full network of capabilities for contract manufacturing, assembly, warehousing, delivery, and after-sales servicing,” Kosmides said.

On Dec. 21, 2023, an entity called Michigan Acquisition Ofce Towers LLC purchased the 500 and 600 towers, which total 672,000 square feet and are each 21 stories. e new owner then immediately transferred them to two separate entities, Michigan Acquisition East LLC for the 600 tower and Michigan Acquisition West LLC for the 500 tower.

19 l COPYRIGHT 2024 CRAIN COMMUNICATIONS INC. l ALL RIGHTS RESERVED CRAINSDETROIT.COM I MAY 13, 2024 POLICY Driver’s license reinstatement program expands into prisons. PAGE 3 CONVERSATION Darnell Adams on helping Detroiters keep their homes. PAGE 18 Clockwise from top: Bay Harbor’s downtown, The Highlands at Harbor Spring, The Park Place Hotel in Traverse City as seen from Grand Traverse Bay and the Grand Hotel on Mackinac Island. | KIM METTLER/PETOSKEY AREA VISITORS BUREAU, THE HIGHLANDS AT HARBOR SPRING, PARK PLACE HOTEL AND KURT NAGL With a post-pandemic travel boom, hotel prices Up North went through the roof PLUS: Jon Cotton goes all in on historic hotels. Stories begin on Page 8
this the
The 500 tower of the Renaissance Center houses Blue Cross Blue Shield of Michigan. | COSTAR GROUP
See STARTUP on Page 15 RenCen tower sold twice in one day
See RENCEN on Page 14

Architect who brought midcentury style to Detroit dies

Architect Don Paul Young, who designed homes for a myriad of prominent metro Detroit business gures and was known for helping bring the midcentury modern style to the region, died last month. He was 97.

Young died of natural causes on April 26, according to his son, Roger Young.

e Detroit native learned to draw during his time in the U.S. Army Air Corps during World War II and he would go on to design homes for business gures including Max Fisher, Bill Davidson and Geo rey Fieger.

Roger Young is general manager heading up business operations at his father’s and brother Todd’s architecture rm, Bloomeld Township-based Young & Young Architects Inc.

“He made you feel like you were the most important person in the world,” Roger Young recalled of his father, sharing the sentiments of those who knew him. “He’d go on job sites and he’d go pat the guy digging up trench footing on the back and let him know how important

the work was he was doing.”

Roger Young said his father remained active at the rm up until the last few months as his health got worse, and was still regularly going to job sites well into his 90s. While he designed dozens of buildings over his decades as an architect for all manner of clients, Don Young’s passion was for residential work, Roger Young noted. e level of detail and personal interaction with clients made it some of the most challenging work within the profession, he said.

Don Young is survived by four

sons: Gregory, Todd, Donald and Roger, as well as seven grandchildren and ve great-grandchildren. He was preceded in death by his wife of 70 years, June, who died in 2015.

ere are no formal services planned, but Roger Young said a celebration of life is being planned for sometime in the summer.

Don Paul Young was born in Detroit in 1927 and with his family moved to Walled Lake at 10 years old, Roger Young told Crain’s. A master mechanic, Don Paul Young’s father worked on what would be-

come Green eld Village.

Beyond his time learning to draw in the military, Young studied at the Detroit Society of Arts and Crafts, the precursor to what is now the College for Creative Studies. e architect had his practice housed in the former Fox and Hounds Inn in Bloom eld Hills for years before formally launching Young & Young with his son Todd in 1984.

Young published a book in 2019, “Creative Process in Architecture,” in which he shared his philosophy on architecture.

“When an architect has suc-

ceeded in ful lling his or her obligations, the outcome will be total and absolute and bare of all of the requisite hallmarks that symbolize architecture,” Young wrote. “(A) timeless expression of space, structure, and utility that beautifully extols the nature of mankind and the spirit of place.”

Josh Lipnik, a trained architect based in metro Detroit with a signi cant social media following around his work photographing Midwest architecture, recently told Crain’s that architects like Young and Irving Tobocman were among those “who had come out of the midcentury modern school of architecture and kind of updated it for the 1970s Detroit area.”

Like many of his era, Young took signi cant inspiration from the work of Frank Lloyd Wright, whose work will be part of a conference coming to Detroit later this year.

Speci cally, the late architect drew inspiration from Wright’s style of making buildings “of the site, not on the site,” Roger Young said.

“Frank Lloyd Wright became such an inspiration to him. Philosophically about architecture and what organic architecture means,” Roger Young said. “So (Don Young’s) architecture was heavily in uenced by the architecture of Frank Lloyd Wright. But he’s not trying to be Frank Lloyd Wright.”

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The Fraser Clark House in Detroit’s Indian Village neighborhood was designed by Don Paul Young in 1958. | BALTHAZAR KORAB Don Paul Young

Driver’s license program expands into prisons


Aryn Almore, 24, waited with anticipation while sitting in the Secretary of State mobile o ce, eager to get something she never had before being locked up: a driver’s license.

With it would come additional freedom outside prison walls — to travel to community college and, ultimately, to become a photographer.

“I love to take pictures,” she

said at the Women’s Huron Valley Correctional Facility, where several rooms inside a school building were converted into a Road to Restoration clinic.

e program, a public-private partnership, was launched to help people reinstate their license after certain driving violations and infractions were terminated under a “clean slate” law that took e ect in 2021. Late last month, the state o ered it behind bars for the rst time, at both the women’s prison in

Washtenaw County and the Parnall Correctional Facility near Jackson.

e goal was to help nearly 400 inmate participants with navigating the process now, so they face one less barrier when they are released this year.

For Almore, a Detroit native, leaving prison after ve years with a license in hand means: “I can drive myself. ...I don’t like asking people for stu .”

See LICENSE on Page 17

Kelly Services plans its biggest acquisition ever

Kelly Services Inc. is buying an East Coast talent recruiting rm in its largest acquisition ever.

Troy-based Kelly (NASDAQ: KELYA, KELYB) on May 3 announced it will acquire Massachusetts-based Motion Recruitment Partners from Littlejohn & Co., a private investment rm based in Greenwich, Conn. e deal is worth $425 million in cash to be paid at close, with additional earnout potential of up to $60 million based on certain performance criteria, according to a news release.

e acquisition is expected to close in the second quarter of 2024.

Kelly expects to fund the transaction through debt and available capital, including more than $100 million from the sale of its European sta ng operations in January 2024.


Quigley said. Motion Recruitment Partners will continue to service its clients under the MRP brand, with the addition of Kelly’s resources.

“MRP’s portfolio of businesses are an exceptional t for Kelly’s SET and OCG segments, adding extensive expertise and an established presence in attractive end-markets. Likewise, Kelly’s breadth of resources and culture of collaboration form a strong foundation upon which MRP will reach extraordinary new heights.”

Kelly has made eight acquisi-

while MRP ts into the category of

our strategy of high margin, high growth, it’s unique in terms of its size and quality.”

“Our acquisition strategy, as part of our long-term growth strategy, is to create value for all of our stakeholders,” Kelly CEO Peter Quigley told Crain’s. “We did embark on a number of acquisitions over the past few years, all with the goal in mind of adding to the Kelly portfolio ... e thing about MRP that’s unique from our prior acquisitions — this is our largest acquisition in our 77-year history, and I would say it’s the most signi cant and potentially transformative in our 77-year history. So while MRP ts into the category of our strategy of high margin, high growth, it’s unique in terms of its size and quality.”

e acquisition will add around 1,000 associates to Kelly’s team of 5,300 employees,

Quigley, CEO, Kelly Services

tions since 2017  — including a di erent Massachusetts staing rm in 2021 — as part of its strategy “to pursue inorganic investments in higher-margin, higher- growth specialties.” e acquisition of Motion Recruitment Partners will also enhance the revenue growth potential of Kelly and accelerate EBITDA margin expansion, according to the release.

See KELLY on Page 15

Bishop Mansion — city’s largest home headed to auction

e Bishop Mansion, believed to be the largest single residence in Detroit, will head to an auction process next month.

After a year on the market without a sale, the property in Detroit’s exclusive Palmer Woods neighborhood that’s been home to leading religious gures and pro basketball stars has been pulled from the open market and will instead seek sealed bids due June 10, according to marketing materials announcing the auction.

e auction process in this case — as opposed to the more tradi-

tional approach of listing and marketing a property on multiple listing services and third-party listing sites such as Zillow — has the advantage of putting “a deadline” on interested buyers, said Luke Schrader, broker with Schrader Real Estate and Auction Co. Inc. based in Columbia City, Ind., who is managing the auction.

“ e sellers want to put some urgency into transitioning this to the next person,”  Schrader said.

“ e auction (process) kind of gives a deadline that if people are interested, then they need to submit something by this date.”

e more than 31,000-square-

foot home is owned by California-based 104 Investments LLC.

e name of the owner is unknown, but they are a Fresno, Calif.-area businessperson and philanthropist who bought it in 2017 for an undisclosed price.

At more than 100 years old, the 68-room mansion was built for Bishop Michael Gallagher, who headed the Catholic diocese in Detroit from 1918 until his death in 1937. Since then, the property has been used for a variety of uses, including as the home of former Detroit Pistons star John

Kelly Services makes its North American headquarters in Troy. COSTAR GROUP Inmates at the Women’s Huron Valley Correctional Facility participate in a clinic designed to help them get a driver’s license when they leave prison. | WALTER MARSHALL/MICHIGAN DEPARTMENT OF STATE
See AUCTION on Page 17
in Detroit’s Palmer Woods neighborhood will head to auction next month after a year on the market without a sale. | SCHRADER REAL ESTATE AND AUCTION

Work begins on Fisher Body plant apartment conversion

Another of Detroit’s longstanding symbols of its rise and fall is now under construction as developers attempt to give it new life.

Work has started on the longdecrepit Fisher Body No. 21 plant near the I-75 and I-94 interchange, where it sits looming over the two major freeways as an abandoned eyesore. It was last occupied more than three decades ago in 1993.

Richard Hosey, one of the developers along with Gregory Jackson on the $142.1 million project, said workers are now cleaning out contamination and asbestos, and fullblown construction should start after nancing closes in September. e initial work, Hosey said, is being funded out of theirs and their investors’ own pockets.

“We are going in quite at risk but we wanted to keep the momentum going,” Hosey said of fronting the cleanup costs themselves before the nancing package closes.

“Asbestos and lead remediation are the two big focuses, but also there are so many machines and metal and everything in the building, so we are taking all that out.

Demo and abatement are to be done over the course of the summer so that we can be ready to be solely into the construction part, not the demo and cleanup part, when we close on nancing.”

It’s an alphabet soup of nancing, ranging from CRP (Community Revitalization Program) dollars to TIF (tax-increment nancing), PACE (property assessed clean en-

Abatement and cleanup work at the Fisher Body No. 21 plant

and is expected to take a few months to


full-blown construction on the

space is expected to begin. At left: A rendering of a reimagined Fisher Body No. 21 plant as an apartment building. |

ergy) and CDFI (community development nance institution) funding, LIHTC (low-income housing tax credits) and $4.75 million in RAP (Revitalization and Placemaking Program) funding.

“ ere’s seven or eight layers besides the developer equity and LIHTC,” Hosey said.   e project is also believed to be one of the largest, if not the largest, Black developer-led projects in the city’s history.

As it’s currently envisioned, what would become the Fisher 21 Lofts would have 433 apartments plus 29,400 square feet of retail and 16,100 square feet of co-working

space as part of the e ort that has been years in the making. e project was announced March 2022, and a community bene ts agreement was approved a few months later in the summer. Discussions between Hosey and Jackson began a few years before the project was announced, the development team said at the time.

ere would be 166 studio apartments ranging from 405 to 565 square feet; 210 one-bedroom units ranging from 480 to 795 square feet; 41 two-bedroom units between 925 and 1,300 square feet; and 16 loft-style two-bedroom units with 801 to 1,110 square feet,

according to a project summary presented in December as part of the CBO process annual update. Twenty percent will be reserved at rates considered a ordable. Housing a ordability is a fraught issue in Detroit, in part because whether a unit is deemed a ordable is measured based on Area Median Income, a federally designated metric that factors in the household incomes in Detroit’s suburbs, which skew that figure upward for low-income Detroiters. In some cases, that makes even housing that’s considered affordable on a strictly bureaucratic basis unaffordable for some of the city’s poorest residents.

e 600,000-square-foot Fisher Body No. 21 plant was built in 1919 and sits on 4.7 acres at 6051 Hastings Street at Harper. e city says the plant was designed by Smith Hinchman & Grylls Inc. (now known as the SmithGroup) for the Fisher brothers as their 21st plant, making auto bodies for Cadillac and Buick before the brothers were bought out by General Motors. e property closed in 1984. Carter Color Coat Co. bought it in 1990 and did industrial paint work there but the company went out of business in 1993 and shuttered it. e city took ownership in 2000.

Birmingham-based McIntosh Poris Associates is the project architect. A general contractor has not been selected, Hosey said.

Ann Arbor’s home market is ‘scary’

In late February, a 4,000-squarefoot home on the east side of Ann Arbor listed for $850,000. Barely three weeks later, the house had sold for $1.1 million, a roughly 30% premium.

Such activity is becoming the norm in the Southeast Michigan university town’s competitive housing market, which was recently named one of the nation’s leading housing markets in the country, according to a report by the Wall Street Journal and

e report — which looks at myriad factors ranging from the overall real estate market to economic health and quality, as well as overall demand — ranks Ann Arbor as the third hottest housing market in the country, just behind Rockford, Ill., and Canton, Ohio.

e Lansing-East Lansing area also made the list, coming in at No. 20.

e new report aims to put a spotlight on “housing markets that o er shoppers a lower cost of living, including for homes, and thriving local economies that are attractive, but not too crowded.”

A combination of a ordability and climate resilience helped put markets such as Rockford and Canton at the top of the list, as Crain’s Chicago reported recently.

But, there’s a key di erence between Ann Arbor and the two mar-

kets ahead of it on the report: affordability.

e median home price in Ann Arbor, as determined by the report, stands at $525,000, far outpacing the median price throughout the rest of the country of about $417,700, according to data from the U.S. Census Bureau and the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development.

By contrast, Rockford — northwest of Chicago — and Canton — south of Cleveland — each have median prices below $250,000.

“I worry about a ordability” in Ann Arbor, said Martin Bouma, president of the Bouma Group, an Ann Arbor-based a liate of Keller Williams Realty.

“ e problem is we’re seeing crazy activity,” Bouma told Crain’s, noting that buyers’ agents in his ofce are routinely writing multiple competitive o ers each week and still losing out. “It’s a little scary.”  Smaller ranch houses in the city

that might have once sold in the $300,000-$400,000 range are now going under contract within days of hitting the market and fetching $500,000 or higher, Bouma noted. Much of the activity can be attributed to the expanding presence of the health care sector in Ann Arbor, overall growth of the University of Michigan and the notion that the city’s economy is seen as more immune from recessions when compared with the auto-heavy Detroit suburbs.

Ann Arbor, Bouma noted, has shifted in recent years from more of a “hippie, artsy community” to a “more bougie type area,” sparking concern over where more workingclass people — nurses, teachers, re ghters — might live.

“You can’t buy a single-family home in Ann Arbor for under $300,000 unless it needs a ton of work,” He said.

Despite those concerns, Bouma said activity at his brokerage remains robust, particularly as it focuses on listing homes, and that overall volume is up about 28% so far this year.

e aforementioned home in Ann Arbor that sold for over $1 million is increasingly far from an outlier in the area. As Crain’s has previously reported, between 2018 and 2022, homes in the city selling for more than $1.5 million have surged, growing more than vefold.

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This home on the east side of Ann Arbor sold for about 30% over asking price in March, selling for $1.1 million. | REDFIN Kirk Pinho Above: has begun nish. Once nancing closes later this year, $142.1 million redevelopment into apartments and commercial PHOTOS BY KIRK PINHO AND MCINTOSH PORIS ASSOCIATES

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State park funding shouldn’t rely on tricking drivers

Some in Michigan’s Legislature are trying to pull a trick over a sticker on state drivers.

e trick involves the $14-a-year “passport” that helps fund our state parks. Now, when drivers register their vehicles, they are asked if they want to pay the fee to get the sticker that allows free entry to Michigan state parks for a year.

A plan under debate in Lansing would instead automatically opt drivers into purchasing the sticker, whether they want it or not. ey would have to “opt out” to avoid paying the fee.

e details of how they’d be able to opt out matter, a lot. Some proposals would have drivers pay the fee and then require them to seek the refund separately, after the fact. Which we all know most people won’t bother with.

ere are enough of these sorts of hidden junk fees in American life. We don’t need our government getting into the game. To be clear: We believe that our state parks are one of Michigan’s jewels and an underappreciated part of our economy, a tourism sector that o ers ample prospects for growth. Steering more money toward maintaining them — and, especially, improving them — would be a decision that pays dividends well beyond the parks’ borders, bringing in visitors and dollars we wouldn’t otherwise see.

e only question is how do that.

States like Florida, Tennessee and Texas that are known for robust state park systems tend to have a mix of funding sources,

including user fees, annual appropriations and revenue streams like special sales taxes that aren’t subject to the whims of annual budgeting.

Michigan’s state parks do get an annual budget appropriation, but it accounts for

only about 3 percent of the system’s operating cash. User fees, including the recreation passport, and royalties from the sale of oil, gas and mineral rights account for the rest, according to the Department of Natural Resources.

Finding a dedicated funding source for the parks, like a special sales tax, is worth considering but would be rather obviously politically di cult.

If the state wants to bring in more money from user fees, there’s one no-brainer idea that’s preferable: Just raise the price. At $14, the passport is considered by almost everyone who buys one an almost unbelievable bargain compared to nearly any other entertainment option. It’s cheaper than a month of Net ix, or a ticket to a single movie. It’s enough to feed one person at McDonald’s, but probably not two.

Other park systems know this. Compare the $40 a year the Huron-Clinton Metroparks charge, or the $30 a year for Oakland County’s parks.

Any businessperson could tell you that doubling the current price would lose very few passholders and likely create far more than the $17.2 million in additional net revenue the Whitmer administration estimates an “opt-out” system for passes would create. And even at that price, the sticker would still be a bargain.

e Legislature ought to strongly consider larger annual general-fund appropriations as well. e parks would be a better recipient of much state money than the one-o grants to political cronies that seem to be par for the course now in state budgets.

And that sort of funding would at least be honest, spreading the cost across all taxpayers, rather than an unwieldy “opt-out” system.

Michigan students deserve a strong and e ective teacher

All Michigan students deserve a strong and e ective teacher. It’s become common knowledge in Michigan that we have a serious teacher recruitment and retention problem. e problem is most acute in higher-poverty districts, however. Michigan’s unfair school funding system that inadequately funds higherpoverty districts contributes to this crisis, leading higher-poverty districts to struggle to provide competitive compensation and experience high rates of teacher turnover. In some districts, students wait as late as Halloween and even anksgiving to be placed with a teacher in their classrooms. High teacher turnover destabilizes school improvement e orts, as well as e orts to foster a positive school culture and strong relationships between students and teachers. Particular groups of students bear the brunt of this crisis. Students from low-income backgrounds and students of color are far more likely to attend school in districts with higher rates of inexperienced teachers, teachers in “out-of- eld” assignments, and teachers with emergency credentials, according to an analysis by e Education Trust-

Alice Thompson (from left) is CEO of BFDI Educational Services, Inc., and chair of the Detroit NAACP’s Education Committee. Amber Arellano is executive director of e Education TrustMidwest. Mike Jandernoa is founder & chairman of 42 North Partners. ompson, Arellano and Jandernoa are tri-chairs of the Michigan Partnership for Equity and Opportunity.

Midwest. at’s unacceptable and likely contributes to the devastating opportunity gaps facing these students. Educators of color also are disproportionately a ected by this talent crisis. Nationally, just 25% of schools educate the most students of color. Given what we know about how teacher recruitment and retention issues disproportionately impact districts with higher concentration of poverty, this tells us that students from low-income backgrounds, and students and educators of

writing and a phone number for fact-checking purposes.

color, are being systematically let down by Michigan’s public education system. Finding innovative new ways to build a strong educator pipeline is necessary in every district, but it’s especially important in these districts. Indeed, while many committed stakeholders are advancing solutions to address the state’s academic crisis, progress will be nearly impossible if we don’t also address this critical factor for student success: ensuring that every Michigan student has access to a strong, e ective teacher.  But there’s hope. Michigan can implement some key strategies now that are being championed by e Michigan Partnership for Equity and Opportunity — a statewide coalition which we have the honor to lead — to address this growing talent crisis.

First, we should tackle teacher salary disparities that make it much more dicult for lower-income districts to recruit and retain top teaching talent. State leaders can start by building upon a teacher salary incentive program created last year.  rough this new pilot program, the state is dispersing $64 million equally across traditional public school districts

with the intent that districts use those funds to increase educator compensation. However, the equal, per-pupil, distribution approach does not account for school districts’ vastly di erent abilities to fairly compensate educators or recruit and retain top talent. Instead, state leaders should take a new approach and prioritize dollars to schools in districts with the highest percentages of students from low-income backgrounds. Policymakers can use the state’s new Opportunity Index as a guide. is new school funding mechanism — approved last June after a historic legislative vote — ensures that Michigan invests more school funding dollars in school districts with greater concentrations of poverty.  e new index has six bands of funding levels based on a school district’s concentration of poverty to close opportunity gaps for students from low-income backgrounds. State leaders should target the teacher salary incentive funding to districts that have the greatest concentrations of poverty — or Opportunity Index Bands 5 and 6 — with the goal of lifting starting teacher salaries to at least $50,000 in those districts.

See TEACHER on Page 14

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Jon Cotton is all in on historic hotels after closing his health care company

Metro Detroit businessman Jon Cotton’s main goal in shifting his career from health care to hospitality is to acquire and restore properties that are “not replicable” — and he’s not stopping with deals in Northern Michigan.

Following a string of Up North hotel and restaurant acquisitions over the past four years, Cotton in December shut down his Grosse Pointe Farms-based Medicare Advantage plan ApexHealth, which he founded and led, to fully focus on building his new hospitality business, e Cotton Collection LLC.

So far, he has acquired ve hotels and several onsite and standalone restaurants in Northern Michigan as part of three separate transactions, hiring Troy-based Hotel Investment Services Inc. to manage the portfolio.

“It’s a very fun and exciting industry to be in,” Cotton said.

“The health insurance industry, I wouldn’t exactly call that a sexy and fun industry to be in, but this is very enjoyable. It’s fun to go and stay at the hotels or sit in the corner of the restaurants and watch families interacting and enjoying themselves. It’s very gratifying.”

Although Cotton described Northern Michigan as “the jewel

of the Midwest” and a great place to invest, he’s also eyeing a future southward expansion.

“We would very much like to diversify outside of the state of Michigan, especially down South, because Michigan is a very seasonal summer operation, and we’d love to … move employees up and down depending on the seasons,” he said.

Behind the shift

Cotton is one of three sons of David and Shery Cotton, who founded Meridian Health Plan Inc., once the state’s largest Medicaid HMO, in the late 1990s and sold the company in 2018 for $2.5 billion.

Jon Cotton, who lives in Grosse

Pointe and previously served as president and COO at Meridian Health, developed a love of Up North lodging when he began staying at the Hotel Iroquois during the Mackinac Policy Conference.

“Every year as part of our business group, we’d take a core group of execs … (and it) was just our favorite place to be,” Cotton said.

He bought Hotel Iroquois, which was built in 1900, in the summer of 2020 from the McIntire family, who had owned and operated it since 1954. e purchase included the onsite Carriage House Restaurant.  Cotton wasn’t ready to stop at one hotel acquisition.

In October 2020, he registered e Cotton Collection as a holding company for future hospitality investments and began scouting other opportunities.

By Rachel Watson Jon and Lauren Cotton bought the Hotel Iroquois on Mackinac Island in 2020. | COURTESY OF HOTEL INVESTMENT SERVICES Jon and Lauren Cotton. | JON COTTON Stafford’s Bay View Inn in Petoskey was part of a hotel group acquisition by Cotton in 2023. COURTESY OF HOTEL INVESTMENT SERVICES See COTTON
on Page 10


Improvements for April’s event support local businesses, with lasting impact for the city

Verizon supported the National Football League’s 2024 Dra and the city of Detroit by bringing new te nology and connectivity to the record-breaking event.

“Verizon is a big partner of the NFL — a very proud partner,” said Scott Hubble, principal engineer for Verizon. “ e NFL didn’t partner with us lightly — it’s because we are the most reliable network, and it’s critical that their fans and their infrastructure are supported by a carrier like us. It’s our reliability that turns them towards us.”

As the NFL’s o cial 5G partner, Verizon made upgrades to Detroit’s network to make the 2024 Dra a positive experience for the 775,000 fans, hopeful players, media outlets, and businesses who congregated downtown over the three days. Crowds exceeded expectations and shattered previous Dra attendance records, highlighting the need for reliable connectivity to do business, provide public safety, support media, and let fans share photos and updates.

Lasting impact

“Over the last two years, at least 150 Verizon employees have tou ed some aspect of the Dra ,” Hubble said of the massive e ort to get Detroit prepared for the hundreds of thousands of visitors. e upgrades will continue to have an impact on the city a er the Dra has moved out.

“We spent roughly $25 million in upgrades in the city of Detroit over the past year,” Hubble said. “ e really cool thing is that 98% of what we deployed in the city of Detroit, stays in the city.”

For example, Hubble said, Verizon deployed 20 new small cell towers and enhanced 30 existing small cells with four times the capacity. ey

also added ve macro towers in the area and added ber in and around downtown. Other projects added coverage outside of the Central Business District, with additional towers to add capacity to a broader area.

“It’s something that we are very proud of. We were here to support the dra , obviously, with all the excitement in the air, all the lights, all the cameras, all the glitz and all the glamour. But at the end of the day, all the people who live and work in the city of Detroit will be able to take advantage of our network,” Hubble said.

Supporting local businesses

“It was amazing to see the city transformed to be on the world stage,” said Angela Wright, a small business owner who has three bars in Detroit — MIX Bri town Bar & Mobile Kit en, SANDBOX Outdoor Bar & Lounge and Lo eroom Sports Bar & Food Tru . “ is was my rst time working an event of this magnitude.”

Verizon had a goal to bring the best experience to fans on site, as well as businesses serving the crowds. at’s why Wright is a Verizon Business customer.

Wright said connectivity was critical to keeping her customers satis ed. She had a booth in the Dra area downtown to sell Lo eroom favorites like wings, fries and, of course, Detroit coney dogs to thousands, of hungry visitors, and all transactions were cashless. “For a cashless event, you need that reliability,” she said.

Lions choose Verizon

Another exciting play for Detroiters and NFL fans is Verizon’s newly announced partnership to be the “O cial 5G Network of the Detroit Lions” and presenting sponsor of the hal ime performance at the team’s

annually hosted anksgiving game.

As the Lions’ exclusive 5G and wireless services partner, Verizon will provide reliable connectivity designed to improve venue operations and enhance the fan and stadium experience for the next three years. is agreement builds on Verizon’s already extensive wireless infrastructure at Ford Field, whi includes deployments of 5G Ultra Wideband, Private Wireless Network coa -to-coa communication, and 5G Edge Cashierless Che out te nology.

“We are excited to continue and grow our partnership with Verizon at Ford Field,” said Detroit Lions Chief Operating O cer Mike Disner. “Our partnership with Verizon has enabled us to elevate the Ford Field experience for fans, media and our sta through greater connectivity and network strength. We are thrilled that they will continue to be a part of our annual anksgiving Tradition in Detroit.”

To date, Verizon has made several network and stadium improvements to Ford Field to accommodate the rapid increase in data usage during games and entertainment events held at the stadium throughout the year. is includes Verizon’s Distributed Antenna System (DAS), a wireless network of antennas

distributed throughout the property allowing for better performance/coverage and greater capacity using Verizon’s C-band spectrum, as well as a 5G mmWave system deployment in the stadium.

All eyes on Detroit

Verizon employees and Detroit business owners say these kinds of partnerships make events like the Dra possible for the city — and the impact will be lasting.

“ is is the best. is is Detroit’s Super Bowl — not the Lions, it’s Detroit’s Super Bowl. It means so mu to the city. It means so mu to the community and to the economy in Detroit,” said Roz Peoples, a Detroiter and government account manager for Verizon.

For Wright, the 2024 NFL Dra was a way to show Detroit at its best. “I was in sho and awe to see what’s been built for this event and to feel the energy. It’s su a great way for people to experience all that Detroit has to o er.”

Fans at the 2024 NFL Draft in Detroit take and share photos from the main stage of the Detroit Lions pick. Scan this QR code to watch a video about Verizon and the 2024 NFL Draft.
Scott Hubble, principal engineer for Verizon, shows one of the towers Verizon added to the Draft area to help Detroiters stay connected during the 2024 NFL Draft.


From Page 8

He and his wife, Lauren Cotton, purchased Sta ord’s Hospitality Inc. from founder Sta ord Smith and his ve equity partners in November 2023. e portfolio includes three hotels and four restaurants in Petoskey, Charlevoix, Harbor Springs and Alanson, which sits along US-31 between Little Traverse Bay and Burt Lake.

In March of this year, the Cottons then acquired the 204-yearold Harbour View Inn and onsite restaurant Bill’s Grill on Mackinac Island from the Pulte family.

A focus on ‘mom and pops’

e through-line for e Cotton Collection’s acquisitions strategy is to identify generationally owned, resort-style properties and carry on those legacies, Cotton said.

Cotton, who spent his entire career working in family businesses, said although those transactions can sometimes take a bit more patience, they’re worth the wait.

When he approached the McIntire family about buying Hotel Iroquois, the family matriarch, the late Margaret McIntire, was in her 90s and not quite ready to sell. e family entertained conversations around selling but ultimately delayed the transaction for a couple of years.

“Two years later, they came back in the middle of COVID … and said, ‘You know what, grandma is ready,’” Cotton said. McIn-

tire lived to see the sale close in 2020, then passed away in 2022.

A similar timeline took place with the Sta ord’s owners, who initially approached Cotton in 2021 to gauge what a deal could look like, but didn’t sell the business to him until 2023.

Cotton said it’s important to him to keep as much continuity among the sta as possible. He retained Margaret McIntire’s “super star” grandson, Sam Barnwell, as general manager of Hotel Iroquois. A year ago, Barnwell was promoted to chief development o cer at HIS.

Barnwell said since joining Cotton in management at HIS, he’s been impressed by Jon Cotton’s “stewardship” mindset that’s baked into his acquisitions strategy.

“He told me early on, when it was just Iroquois, and he reiterated when we did (the deal for) Stafford’s, ‘Nobody who’s a housekeeper or front desk agent or dishwash-

trative support so employees can spend more time on guest services.

He added Cotton’s approach is unlike what would happen if a large chain acquired one of these boutique hotels.

“ e focus and the drive has been to run them as if they were owner-operated (by the original families), not run them based on metrics or reports or …  statistics across the country,” he said. “Decisions are really made on a personal level, understanding the property, understanding what’s important to the property, and understanding what makes them unique, as any owner-operator would (do).”

At all of the restaurant and hotel properties, Cotton strives to keep longtime non-family sta in place.

“We really like (a mom-and-pop business) because with the employee base … your employees are really an extension of your family at that point,” Cotton said. “ ey’re not just ‘butts in seats.’”

Cotton also said he would like to avoid steep increases in hotel room rates to keep prices in line with what regulars have come to expect.

“We don’t want to alienate people who have been coming there a long time and price them out of something that they’ve been enjoying for years and generations,” he said.

Preserving and restoring

er should at all be worse o or harmed in the transition of me buying this property.’ at’s why the transition of bene ts, transition of wages, everything has always been the same or better,” Barnwell said. “Usually, it’s the person selling that’s like, ‘Hey, I want to make sure my people are taken care of, and you’ve got to do X, Y or Z.’ e di erence is Jon’s directive to me on the development side is ‘You need to make sure that me coming in is not painful or causes a burden on any of the sta .’”

Barnwell said that included retaining everyone who wanted to stay at all of the acquired properties, and adding technical and adminis-

Cotton said another theme of his investment strategy is acquiring historic, one-of-a-kind properties that need preservation. “Our strategy is we really want to look at boutique only, preferably historic buildings that hopefully are so unique that they’re grandfathered in, they wouldn’t be able to be built a certain way (and) they’re on property or land that’s probably not replicable,” he said.

After acquiring Hotel Iroquois, Cotton invested an undisclosed sum into interior and exterior improvements, including combining some bedrooms into suites, redoing the landscaping, building a new dock at the Carriage House Restaurant and increasing out-

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The Perry Hotel in Petoskey | STAFFORD’S HOSPITALITY The Cottons bought the Harbour View Inn on Mackinac Island from the Pulte family of homebuilding fame earlier this year. | HARBOUR VIEW INN

door seating with new patios.

Also on Mackinac Island, the Cottons are planning a threeyear, multimillion-dollar renovation of the Harbour View Inn that’s in the design phase now and is expected to kick o after the 2024 peak season ends.

For the Sta ord’s properties, which Cotton says are “really well run,” he’s targeting retaining sta but optimizing other expenses with the new economies of scale that e Cotton Collection’s management team, HIS, can provide.

But he’s also going to take the next couple of years to assess the properties for any necessary renovations, as they also are historic structures. e Bay View Inn, for instance, was built in 1886, while the Perry Hotel dates to 1899.

“We want to understand all of the operations, the buildings … (and) it’s going to take time to really say, ‘What do we want to do with each one of these?’” he said. “We have not started the exact process yet.”

Jim Powell, executive director of the Petoskey Area Visitors Bureau, said he looks forward to seeing how the Cottons’ plan for the Sta ord’s properties plays out, as the properties are some

“We don’t want to alienate people who have been coming there a long


and price them out of something that they’ve been enjoying for years and generations.”
Jon Cotton

of Emmet and Charlevoix counties’ most-loved destinations.

“We do know that (the Cottons) intend to maintain the historic nature of those properties,” he said. “When you look at their other purchases like the Hotel Iroquois on Mackinac Island, there’s been a lot of positive (anticipation) that they’re going to do the right thing with these historic properties up here. Certainly, as always, we’re excited to hear about what capital improvements are coming.

e hospitality industry is an ever-evolving piece and the last thing you want to do is not keep your properties current. We’re excited to see what vision they have going forward that’ll help elevate those properties.”

Cotton said he’s always been a preservationist at heart.

“I love historic architecture, and I love to design and to build and improve,” he said. “And I think that’s what we’ve done (with Hotel Iroquois) and what we’re going to do with our other properties. It’s really taking these gems … to the next level.”

Hotel prices Up North went through the roof. Is this the year they might ease?

Tourism leaders say the end of pent-up demand for travel post-pandemic, combined with more hotel rooms coming online, could help travelers avoid lodging price spikes heading into peak travel season.

Visitors bureau leaders in multiple Northern Michigan tourism hotspots all say they are expecting a stabilization of hotel rates coming out of the pandemic, which brought on swift price increases when demand soared.

“I would say we’re probably at a level (with rates) that will remain consistent for a while,” said Jim Powell, executive director of the Petoskey Area Visitors Bureau. “I don’t see a big jump this summer. I don’t see it falling o . I think they’re in that ne-tuning stage because we had so much rapid growth there (during the pandemic). I think every property is looking at their numbers individually and saying ‘OK, maybe we went a little too high here. Maybe we’re a touch too low here.’”

Trevor Tkach, president and CEO of Traverse City Tourism, also said he’s not expecting big increases in rates this year, though it can be hard to say when consumers ultimately drive rate changes.

“You don’t always know the tipping point until you hit it,” he said. “ e reality is, I don’t think we’ve grown our rates any faster than anyone else. We were already a premium price destination, and so we’ve maintained that. ... But the consumer, they hold all the cards. If the con dence shifts at any point during the summer, and that could happen, we’ll see what the response (in hotel rates) might be.”

During the Pure Michigan Governor’s Conference on Tourism last month in Kalamazoo, one theme was the anticipated leveling o of local and regional travel spending after pent-up demand peaked post-pandemic, and in ation began hitting pocketbooks.

“I think the headline for the impending summer season in Michigan is that the ridiculously named ‘revenge travel’ period is dead,” said Justin Winslow, president and CEO of the Michigan Restaurant & Lodging Association. “In its wake, we nd something more akin to what we saw before the pandemic, which was modest, if uneven growth.”

Kelly Wolgamott, interim vice president for the state tourism ofce Travel Michigan within the Michigan Economic Development Corp., echoed that observation.

“ ere’s a lot of disruptors out there when we talk about consumer trends,” she said. “ ere’s in ationary pressures, so there’s only so many dollars people have to travel, and what we called the ‘revenge traveler’ following the pan-

demic started to subside last year.”

When in ationary pressures squeeze local and regional travel budgets, Michigan sees a dip in visitation, Wolgamott said, which, based on the law of supply and demand, can mean lower room rates. While that’s good for visitors, it’s not good for hotels, which have higher expenses now thanks to the rising cost of goods and labor.

“ at (poses) a challenge for us, in how we can make that considerable outreach, not only within the U.S., but also internationally,” Wolgamott said, especially with fewer Pure Michigan advertising dollars in the proposed 2024-25 state budget than tourism o cials hoped for this year.

“International tourists are extremely important for the state,” Wolgamott added. “ ey stay longer, they spend more money, and we’re the perfect product compared to New York, L.A. and Florida, which are very, very high as far as pricing, and Michigan is the best value price opportunity for those international travelers. So we’re working hard with our partners to get the international traveler here.”

Rates in Traverse City

Tkach, of Traverse City Tourism, said the bureau’s coverage area of Benzie, Grand Traverse and Leelanau counties experienced hotel room rate growth of about 3% last year. Rates currently vary from about $150 to $200 per night on average, depending on the day of the week, the season and the property.

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See HOTELS on Page 12
The Park Place Hotel in Traverse City as seen from Grand Traverse Bay. PARK PLACE HOTEL



From Page 11

For this year, he said no signicant rate growth is expected, partly because of the continued growth of inventory.

About 500 rooms are being added to the Grand Traverse region’s inventory of about 4,000 rooms, between two hotels that came online part way through last year and several being built this year. at includes a Tru by Hilton that opened last March in Gar eld Township, the independent Alexandria Inn that opened in East Bay Township in June and the new Avid Hotel that opened a couple of weeks ago, also in East Bay Township. Other hotels under construction include a Residence Inn & Suites and a Home2Suites by Hilton in East Bay and a new Fair eld by Marriott in Gar eld Township, all of which Tkach expects will open within a year.

at’s in addition to the area’s 2,000 short-term rentals that have been added in the past 10 to 15 years, he said, noting that there tend to be rooms at every price point.

Tkach said it remains to be seen whether the demand will match supply, or whether potential oversupply could drive down rates. He tends to think that won’t be a problem until winter arrives.

“ ere’s a lot of variables that affect rates,” he said. “... For us, we’ve built up a recognizable brand over the years, and so I think Traverse City has allowed itself an opportunity to dictate a di erent type of rate structure and maybe hold on to that structure a little bit longer than others will be able to, and the proof was in the outcomes. We continue to see a lot of visitation.”

But he also said “consumer behavior is unpredictable,” so only time will tell if the bureau’s prediction for another strong peak travel season comes true.

A look at greater Petoskey

e Petoskey Area Visitors Bureau covers part of northern Charlevoix County, Petoskey, Harbor Springs, the Boyne Valley area, and Alanson, which sits along US31 between Little Traverse Bay and Burt Lake.

e visitors bureau has 28 member hotel operators with about 2,500 rooms. Another 44 rooms are coming online this spring, as the new Otis Harbor Springs Hotel is now accepting reservations.

Powell said his area’s average daily rates for 2021-2023 were about $188 for that three-year period. Hotels saw “incredible” rate growth of 8% to 16% in 2021 and 2022 based on higher demand. He expects a more “normal” growth rate of about 2% to 4% in 2023 and 2024.

He said it’s important to keep in mind that the average rate spans a wide spectrum of prices, from $600 to $800 per peak season night at a high-end property like the Inn at Bay Harbor, to $469 for a room at the Perry Hotel, to $79 for a ba-

sic Super 8 in Petoskey.

As to whether room rates are “too high,” Powell said it’s a question being discussed across the state.

“Northern Michigan prices have gone up,” he said. “ at’s very clear in the last few years, that we may have priced some people out of that entry-level product, and they may have chosen to go to a di erent location that might provide a more a ordable rate. But likewise, we (in Petoskey) get a bene t from the trickle-down from some other places whose

rates may have gone up even higher than ours,” such as Mackinac Island, he added.

The view from Mackinac Island

Steph Castelein, events and content manager for the Mackinac Island Tourism Bureau, acknowledged prices were higher last year on average across Mackinac Island’s 1,600 rooms.

ough the 2023 visitation numbers aren’t in yet, her gut feeling is that consumer spending

from day trippers was softer last year, and there likely were fewer visitors than the 1.2 million people who came in 2022. But the bureau still exceeded its revenue goals, largely because rates were up.

Castelein said she expects rates will hold fairly steady for the 2024 peak season. A May 7 search of the Mackinac Island hotel rooms still available for mid-July showed options ranging from $289 at the Murray Hotel on Main Street to $597 up the hill at the Grand Hotel.

“I think we’ve kind of hit our max for a few years right now, so I

can see rates staying similar,” Castelein said.

One indicator of that, she said, is that another 30 rooms are coming back online this year, thanks to the completion of the two-year-long renovation of the Inn at Stonecli e adding supply to the market. e luxury property’s July prices range from about $492 for a queen room up to $3,000 for a night in one of the summer cottages.

Powell, from Petoskey, said just from anecdotal conversations, he thinks there’s more competition for consumers’ budgets, including for travelers who might be considering “long haul” international destinations. at makes the growing practice of dynamic pricing essential, rather than a set-it-and-forget-it approach to peak-season rate setting.

“At the end of last summer … consumers were really returning some of their pre-pandemic behaviors,” he said, before laughing: “If one more person (talks) about their trip to Spain, or somewhere international, I swear.”

Bay Harbor downtown. | KIM METTLER/PETOSKEY AREA VISITORS BUREAU Above: Rates available for mid-July at the Grand Hotel on Mackinac Island were $595 on a recent search. Left: The Highlands resort. | KURT NAGL AND THE HIGHLANDS RESORT Above: The Bayshore Resort in Traverse City. Right: The Inn at Bay Harbor. | BAY SHORE RESORT AND THE INN AT BAY HARBOR

GM will take top 2 oors at Hudson’s Detroit for new HQ

More details are coming to light about General Motors Co.’s footprint in the Hudson’s Detroit property as it moves its headquarters out of the Renaissance Center.

e Detroit-based automaker is taking the top two oors of the city’s newest o ce building for what it is describing as its new global headquarters, equating to a shade under 100,000 square feet, according to two sources familiar with the matter.

GM could ultimately take more space in the 12-story so-called “block” building on the northern portion of the Hudson’s site, but precisely how much has not been determined, the sources said. GM is expected to move into the building in 2025.

ere is also expected to be a “showcase space on the street level for GM vehicles and community activations,” according to an April press release.

e Hudson’s o ce building

has about 404,000 square feet of Class A o ce space, plus meeting and event space. Its 10th oor is 49,232 square feet while the 11th is 48,410 square feet for a total of 97,642 square feet, according to materials by the New York Citybased brokerage house Newmark, which has been hired to market the o ce space for lease.

Dan Gilbert’s Bedrock LLC has been asking what amounts roughly to about $59 per square foot per year to lease some of the o ce space in Hudson’s Detroit. e company led by CEO Mary Barra has previously only said it was taking the top o ce oors in a 15-year lease, but did not say how many.

Messages were sent to spokespeople for both GM and Bedrock LLC, which is developing the $1.4 billion mixed-use project on the site of the former J.L. Hudson’s department store.

e 1.5 million-square-foot Hudson’s Detroit project has been under construction since December 2017. It includes two buildings: the

smaller, 12-story o ce building where GM is moving next year, and a 45-story skyscraper on the southern portion of the site that will be the state’s second-tallest building.

e skyscraper includes an Edition hotel and condominiums, both of which are expected to open in 2027.

e two buildings are connected by a pedestrian space. ere is

also retail space in the development.

e fate of the Renaissance Center, GM’s longtime headquarters, is up in the air. GM and Bedrock, as well as city and county o cials, are taking the next year or so to determine its future.

It has seven towers built in the 1970s and early 1980s. rough an a liate, GM owns the rst and

largest component, which consists of four 39-story o ce towers surrounding a 73-story hotel tower that’s the tallest building in the state. A separate owner controls the two 21-story o ce towers that were built as the second phase to the east of the main complex.

GM has moved many of its employees to its Warren Technical Center over the last few years.

General Motors plans to move to the new Hudson’s Detroit complex, shown here in a rendering, on the site of the former J.L. Hudson’s department store along Woodward Avenue — the same street that housed the automaker’s rst headquarters in Detroit. | GENERAL MOTORS

Friedman has previously conrmed it purchased the buildings during that transactions, although state business incorporation documents do not identify Friedman directly. City land records list the taxpayer address for Michigan Acquisition East and Michigan Acquisition Parking LLC — which owns the nearly one-acre chunk of land fronting the two buildings — as the same West 12 Mile Road address as Friedman Real Estate.  Michigan Acquisition West then sold the 500 tower, with an address of 582 E. Je erson Ave., to KPI 500 Tower LLC. State business incorporate documents list Kawa’s Florida address and its deputy CEO, Cristina Baldim, as its authorized o cer.

Kawa’s purchase price for the 500 tower is not included in public

records. Crain’s estimates the cost at around $30.4 million based on real estate transfer taxes paid to the county and state.

Messages were sent to both Friedman, which has a knack for turning around distressed assets,

and Kawa seeking details on the transactions.

Friedman paid $15 million combined for the two towers six months ago, plus the nearly one-acre chunk of land, but company executives also said in February that does not





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Mannarino joined Key in 2019 from Fifth Third Bank. He is a native of Michigan and was credit trained at NBD. He also earned his MBA at the University of Detroit Mercy.


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include some $10 million to $15 million spent keeping Blue Cross Blue Shield of Michigan as the 500 tower’s anchor tenant and moving some of its people there out of the 600 tower.

e 600 tower is now up for a rezoning request this week to allow for additional uses other than ofce space.

Paul Choukourian, executive managing director in the Royal Oak o ce of brokerage house Colliers International Inc., said quickturn sales like the one Friedman and Kawa executed are common.

e true value in the sale is the new lease, Choukourian said.

“Once the tenant has signed a lease, the value grows tremendously as the property can be ipped as a cap rate deal, meaning that the new buyer is selling the cash ow of the new lease at a percentage return,” Choukourian said, adding that they are often seen in single-tenant net-lease re-


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Kapnick Insurance proudly welcomes John J. Doyle III and Dan Muncey as Client Executives in their Commercial Risk and Employee Bene ts divisions, respectively.


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tail deals, as well as single-tenant o ce and industrial deals.

e 500 and 600 towers are separate from the main Renaissance Center complex, which is owned by an a liate of GM. at part of the John Portman-designed mega-development includes four 39-story o ce towers anking a 73-story hotel tower, the state's tallest building, which rises 727 feet in the air.

Last month, GM and Dan Gilbert's Bedrock LLC real estate company announced the Detroit-based automaker was leaving its longtime RenCen headquarters and moving into the top oors of o ce space in the Hudson's Detroit development downtown.  Without GM as an anchor o ce tenant, public o cials at the city, county and state levels and executives from the two companies will determine the best path forward for the complex, which was built in the 1970s and early 1980s.


From Page 6

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is will help ensure these districts can better compete for talent and better compensate early career teachers who are more likely to stay in the classroom if compensated better. By doing so, state leaders will help districts do better to ensure students of color and students from low-income backgrounds have access to strong educators.  Second, state leaders should take action to improve upon public reporting of educator data, including teacher salary data by years of experience and vacancy data.  As it stands now, Michigan is light years away from advancing the successful strategies of leading education states when it comes to improving teacher quality. In fact, our state doesn’t have a su cient system in place to diagnose the scope of the problem.

Additionally, data collection and greater transparency about these issues will help empower state, district and community leaders to better diagnose and develop e ective solutions.  Finally, state leaders should pay for teacher certi cation exams. For Michiganders who want to be teachers, this is a barrier that the state could quickly remove. Between October 2022 and September 2023, the Michigan Department of Education documented approximately 15,900 completed Michigan Tests for Teacher Licensure. Assuming a cost of $129 per exam, the total cost to pay for these exams would be approximately $2 million annually. Given the relatively low cost to the state, removing this barrier to prospective teachers could help any Michigander to become an educator, especially people from low-income backgrounds.

By better supporting and compensating teachers in high-poverty communities — and creating the conditions for them and their students to succeed — Michigan can take an important step toward ensuring all students are taught by strong teachers.

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The 600 Tower of the Renaissance Center has about 336,000 square feet across 21 stories. COSTAR GROUP

Kosmides said Bloom was also considering establishing itself in manufacturing hubs in South Carolina and California, but chose Detroit last year when Newlab at Michigan Central rst opened its doors.

“ e real reason why we decided to establish Bloom in Detroit is it’s starting to become the capital of electric bike, all-electric mobility, LEV manufacturing,” Kosmides said. “So there’s a big push for more of the manufacturing to be domestic, and Detroit has all the best ingredients, the best warehousing workforce, and really the concentration of engineers. A lot of what has built the auto industry is what we can build our business o of.”

While Kosmides declined to


From Page 3

Motion Recruitment Partners’ technology services will improve the Kelly delivery platform, add a complementary client portfolio and more.

“ ere are so many valuable and complementary aspects to

share the total amount of funding Bloom has received, he did say that the company anticipates closing its latest round of funding in the next 30 days.

“ e Detroit investor ecosystem has been extremely supportive of hardware-based companies,” Kosmides said. “ at’s one big positive when you compare it to other markets, investors in the Detroit ecosystem really understand what it takes to invest in and support these businesses, which is rare in the country.”

Bloom aims to double its workforce in the next year and a half to a total of 20 employees by the end of 2025. Most employees are based in Detroit, though Kosmides said some of the company’s C-suite employees are still located on the west coast.

With the incoming funding, the startup plans to build out its network and onboarding of custom-

this new partnership and both companies have a lot to learn and gain from each other,” Beth Gilfeather, chief executive o cer of Motion Recruitment Partners, said in the release. “We are excited to begin this new chapter to become part of the exceptional Kelly story and are very motivated to be a driving force behind the signicant growth goals that lie ahead.”

ers, Kosmides said. On the brand side, the startup has generated a pipeline consisting of over 40 active or onboarding customers and letters of intent.

On the service provider side, Bloom has built partnerships with eight contract manufacturers, six warehouses and 3PL groups and other partners, with the goal of “giving mobility brands the ability to scale faster and more e ciently than ever before, all on one platform.”

Kosmides said more than 30 mobility companies have joined Bloom’s platform, including a “big percentage of European brands that are using (Bloom) to establish their U.S. or North American headquarters.”

Bloom is still building out its ofcial o ce space in Newlab at Michigan Central, as well as a larger portfolio of space and capabilities through other partnerships it

In July 2023, Kelly announced it would trim headcount with an unspeci ed number of layo s.

As of January 2023, Kelly Services employed approximately 4,800 sta members in the United States and an additional 2,700 in international locations, according to the company’s website. In January, the company sold its European sta ng business.

has developed. In partnership with a local real estate group, Bloom is aiming to expand its capabilities up to 200,000 square feet by the end of the year, Kosmides said.

“It was really easy to start a business here in Michigan and others have made it too easy to establish business here,” Kosmides said. “Newlab is just a really easy place to start and scale a business. It provides a lot of the ingredients to really lower the cost burden, but it also creates an incredible community.”

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Justin Kosmides, co-founder and president of Bloom, a company whose goal is to decarbonize transportation with light vehicles to ght climate change. | PHOTOS BY SYLVIA JARRUS

Public transit system maxed out during Draft

While a record-breaking number of people attended the NFL Draft in Detroit last month, an equally impressive number of them took advantage of Detroit’s transit options.

e Regional Transit Authority of Southeast Michigan saw a record-breaking number of riders for the D2A2 bus between Detroit and Ann Arbor, the People Mover saw the busiest April since prebankruptcy and the QLine was overwhelmed by the demand of NFL Draft. Lime scooters logged their busiest day — ever — in the city.

Before the NFL Draft, o cials had encouraged attendees to arrive early, park far away from the madness that would become downtown and walk to the draft’s footprint.

Road closures made driving downtown di cult, and the best way to get around was to take advantage of the city’s public transit options.

Detroit-Ann Arbor bus sold out — twice

Ben Stupka, the executive director of the RTA, said the group had to add an additional late night D2A2 bus on April 25, which connects Ann Arbor and Detroit. It sold out. So the RTA added another bus.

“We got almost 3,000 riders for that three day period,” Stupka said. “For context, the month of March, we had just over 7,000 riders for an entire month … the only other time that we even came close — I don’t think we completely sold out — would have been when Beyonce and Taylor Swift were here.”

e D2A2 bus saw a 50% increase in ridership between the rst quarter of 2023 and the rst quarter of 2024, Stupka said.

e new Detroit Air Express bus, which connects Detroit to Metro Airport and opened in March, also saw around 1,000 riders during NFL Draft weekend, Stupka said. e authority is aiming to average between 100 and 200 riders per day for the bus’s rst year of operation.

While the majority of riders will typically pre-book their tickets, Stupka said there were a large number of walk-up customers traveling from the airport. Going forward, Stupka said the RTA is working to ensure more out-oftown travelers know about the DAX bus.

“We’ve got a good base there, but that’s trickier, making sure that it’s on Google Maps and the transit app and all those things, which we’re working on, but having only a month of service, we just haven’t gotten around to it,” Stupka said. “Making sure there’s good signage at the airport — the airport is working with us on all that stu . But just how do you capture someone who maybe isn’t even pre-planning and they’re just kind of showing up and looking around for transit?”

People Mover’s ‘busiest April since 2013’

Robert Cramer, general manager of the Detroit Transportation

Corporation which oversees the Detroit People Mover, said the group prepared for the draft by implementing new information screens and kiosks at each station, as well as utilizing 20 volunteers from Visit Detroit to help people navigate the aboveground train system.

“We used the draft as a kind of a beacon or goal point to really help us push and continually improve, knowing that everything that we could do to improve and update and clean and market the system really would be leading up to the draft and then once we get to the draft, we’ve got a ton of momentum rolling to really continue to see the system grow,” Cramer said.

e e orts seemed to pay o .

e People Mover had 69,211 riders over the draft weekend, with 23,345 on April 26. e biggest rush was on the evening of April 25 when the draft footprint closed and people had to nd alternative places to celebrate.

April 25 and 27 had 22,880 rides and 22,986 rides on the People Mover, respectively.

“ is was our busiest April since 2013, so that was quite a long time ago,” Cramer said. “In the past when the Auto Show was a lot busier, it would have ridership similar to what we saw for the draft during the busiest days of the Auto Show.”

e People Mover had four trains in operation, and the Financial District, Millender Center and Fort/Cass stations were the busiest due to its connections with other public transport options in Detroit, like the QLine and SMART bus stations.

Over the draft weekend, 29,000 riders used SMART bus shuttle services, Bernard Parker, a representative for SMART told Crain’s. SMART worked with the City of Detroit Planning team and the City of Detroit Department of Transportation, as well as other transportation groups within Detroit like the QLine and RTA, to develop a Park & Ride system and prepare for the in ux of visitors to the Motor City.

Both the QLine and the People Mover are free to ride. For the NFL Draft, the People Mover operated on 24-hour service from 7 a.m. April 25 until 11:59 p.m. April 28.

QLine overwhelmed

As part of its preparation for the NFL Draft, the QLine ran a shorter route along Woodward, from Grand Boulevard to Sproat Street, and put all six of its street cars in operation. It arrived at stops in 12 minute intervals, Dan Lijana, communications o cer for M-1 Rail, the nonpro t group behind the QLine, said.

Still, it was not enough for the over 68,000 riders the streetcar service saw over the three days of the draft. On April 25 and 26, M-1 dispatched bus shuttles to pick up lines of people from the QLine stops so they were still able to travel downtown. e number of bus shuttle riders was not included in the QLine’s total use over the draft period.

“It’s not a challenge to have a full streetcar, we love having a full streetcar,” Lijana said. “However if your streetcar comes to the platform, and it’s too full and you can’t

get on — we wanted to be sensitive to that, especially because some people are trying to arrive at something at a certain time.”

e QLine averaged 22,800 riders a day, but the northern stations had the most boardings throughout the weekend due to several Park & Ride programs it had with Rocket Companies and Wayne State University. Lijana said M-1 did not keep track of how many shuttles it displaced on April 25 and 26.

On top of its transportation services, the QLine also provided signage and directions for draft attendees throughout its route. Once a visitor arrived downtown, they didn’t stop utilizing all transport services Detroit had to o er.

Record number of scooter rides

Lime scooters had 6,033 rides in Detroit on April 25, an increase of 549% compared to the previous ursday, according to a news release. Gross bookings from ursday through Sunday combined grew by over 435% compared to the same days of the prior week and total rides grew by 374%.  April 25 set the record for the best single day of rides in Detroit since Lime launched service in Detroit in 2018.

No matter how visitors got around the city during the draft, Stupka said that ensuring Detroit’s transit options were successful was a group e ort.

“ e city of Detroit, Visit Detroit, and a whole team of transit providers — SMART, DDOT, QLine, People Mover — all worked together to provide transit service for the draft,” Stupka said. “It was a huge team e ort. We’ve just heard mostly, almost entirely, positive things about people’s experiences with all the transportation options which is great and just shows how well the city really planned the event.”

Anna Fifelski Thousands of fans descended on Detroit during the NFL Draft, maxing out public transit options. | DUSTIN WALSH The People Mover had its busiest weekend since 2013 during the NFL Draft. | NIC ANTAYA


Years of incarceration and other factors like outstanding court judgments pose especially complicated hurdles for prisoners who want driving privileges upon their release. e lack of a license can make reentry harder, including the job search — despite more businesses hiring people with a criminal record amid a labor shortage.

In recent years, Michigan has made big strides in boosting the number of parolees with a state identi cation card or driver’s license to around 99%. But of those, roughly 75% get an ID, often as a default, and about 25% receive a license.

“We want to ip that. We know there’s obstacles in place. ... e biggest obstacle that people face aside from housing when they return home to the community through reentry is transportation. It’s not always the lack of a vehicle. It’s the lack of a driver’s license,” said Robert McGeorge, who oversees o ender success services at the state Department of Corrections. “It would be great if we could send people home at level par. I don’t want them in a hole.”

A job pathway

Enter events like Road to Restoration, a partnership among the Department of State, the Department of Attorney General, DTE Energy Co., the Miller Can eld law rm, the Detroit Justice Center, the Michigan Association of United Ways, 211 Michigan and the Michigan WORKS! Association.

e 37 clinics to date have enabled thousands of residents with a restricted or suspended license to meet with Secretary of State sta and volunteer attorneys who review their driving record and provide information on how to reinstate the license.

Some inmates took a written test and, with nancial assistance from the MDOC, paid a $125 reinstatement fee. Others with unpaid nes or complex legal issues like needing to attend a reinstatement hearing met with lawyers for guidance.

It was no coincidence that the rst events were at Parnall and Huron Valley. ey have two of the state’s three “vocational villages,”


From Page 3

Situated on more than 2 acres, the Bishop Mansion features a chapel that past owners have used as a theater, as well as multiple original replaces, Pewabic tile and a master suite of about 2,000 square feet.

Considerable exterior work has been done on the home, including a new roof, windows and updated utilities to run modern appliances. Much landscaping work has been completed, as has a roughly 2,000-square-foot guest house.

A new owner will need to complete interior work. Metamora-based Design Ideology has

where certain prisoners are removed from the general population and assigned to an exclusive housing unit for job training and classroom instruction that simulate a regular workday. ey can leave prison with a trade certicate and, in many cases, a job waiting. e events were not limited to only those inmates, though.

“We understand that many of the folks that leave prison have a job and that job requires them to drive. ey need to drive to get to the job or they need to have a license to be eligible for the job. It’s good for them to have a state ID, but it’s not enough,” said Khyla Craine, deputy legal director in Secretary of State Jocelyn Benson’s o ce. “Being able to help them understand what the pathway is to get a driver’s license is of even more importance than al-

been extensively involved in the renovation work and would be available to assist a new owner in the completion, according to the auction marketing materials.

Initially listed last May at $9 million, the home sat idle and underwent a handful of price drops, as low as $6 million in late March before being removed from the multiple listing service.

Given the dearth of comparable homes in the area, Schrader said that while his company has a good history selling such properties using the auction process, coming up with an estimate of a nal sale price makes for a di cult task.  “I have no idea what this house is worth,” Schrader said. “ ere’s no other property like it. ere’s no comparable.”

most anybody else because the rst year when folks are released from prison is the most crucial for them. If they can get stable housing, get a good job, have support, recidivism rates plummet.”

Not having a license can be a hindrance both in rural areas without public transportation but also places like metro Detroit, which has a patchwork of transit options. It can be expensive to hire a lawyer to help restore a revoked license.

Craine, an architect of the Road to Restoration program, said the Corrections Department invited the State Department’s returning citizens team to an event last year at the Richard A. Handlon Correctional Facility, where inmates had a lot of questions about how to get their license back.

“ is is what we do at the clinic all day long. Why don’t we have a

up all of these driving-related matters and they have no means to do so. It’s not just a matter of having the nances to do it. ey don’t know how to do it. It’s di cult to navigate for anybody.”

Workforce development for DTE

DTE Energy got involved with the Road to Restoration initiative after it sought to double its tree-trimming workforce to cut down on power outages caused by storms. When company o cials launched a training program at Parnall’s vocational village and a tree trim academy in Detroit, they noticed how the lack of a driver’s license limited participation.  It could take some people years to get one, which is needed to obtain a commercial license to drive bucket trucks, said Joseph Musallam, DTE Electric’s vice president of renewable energy sales and project development.

clinic inside of the prisons?” she said. “So we asked DOC, ‘Can we do it?’ And they were like, ‘Sure, why not.’ ey’ve been great partners with us.”

Support from the top

e initiative has backing from Michigan’s top elected o cials. Benson, who visited Parnall for the clinic, has urged businesses and other organizations to help pay court nes and fees for Road to Restoration participants.

e DTE Energy Foundation previously seeded the Road to Restoration Fund with $10,000, and the company provides in-kind sta and other assistance. e Michigan Regional Council of Carpenters and Millwrights donated $5,000 to help cover prisoners’ nes and fees to district courts. Miller Can eld has encouraged additional law rms and corporate counsel o ces to send volunteer lawyers.

Attorney General Dana Nessel toured the Huron Valley clinic and nearby vocational village, saying lower recidivism and other benets from such programming is a “win-win-win.”

“No one is in here for a drivingwhile-a-license-is-suspended case. But ... most of the time they do have (driving) matters outstanding,” she said. “When they get out, a lot of time folks just wouldn’t know what to do because now they’ve got clean

“ ere’s now a viable machine that can help people get through this issue,” he said. “It gets them to these jobs. To us, a thriving community is part of what we need to do in order to be a thriving company.”

Corey Boerner, 35, of Bay City, left prison in 2020 after completing the tree-trimming vocational program that he credits with “turning a bad situation into something positive.” It enabled him to start within days as a union-trained line clearance tree trimmer for a DTE contractor, where he still works and makes a good living with health and retirement bene ts.

e military veteran initially had no driver’s license post-release, however, due to old DUIs that had occurred after he returned from Iraq. His wife sometimes had to drive him two-and-a-half hours to job sites. He spent thousands on attorney fees trying to get his license reinstated — to no avail — but ultimately found success a year ago after being connected with the Road to Restoration initiative.

“Now it’s a whole new world for me,” Boerner said. “I can jump in my vehicle at any time. I don’t have to worry about having the nuisance of having to ask somebody, ‘Hey, can you give me a ride here? Can you give me a ride there?’ because I made the decision to drink. Now I don’t drink at all.”

From Page 3
Salley, who lived there in the 1980s and 1990s. The entrance to the more than 30,000-square-foot Bishop Mansion, a Tudor Revival home in Detroit (left). The purchase of the Bishop Mansion includes a fully renovated 2,000-square-foot guesthouse. | SCHRADER REAL ESTATE AND AUCTION Inmates at the Women’s Huron Valley Correctional Facility participate in a clinic designed to help them get a driver’s license when they leave prison. PHOTOS BY WALTER MARSHALL/MICHIGAN DEPARTMENT OF STATE

Darnell Adams focuses on making sure Detroiters can stay in their homes

Darnell Adams, a native of Detroit’s east side, has long been interested in urban planning. Adams, a 2023 Crain’s 40 Under 40 honoree, has worked in numerous roles in Detroit’s nonpro t sector over the last decade and more, primarily related to community development and the city’s housing space, long plagued by blight brought on by decades of population loss and overtaxation for residents that resulted in a foreclosure crisis. Now, as the vice president for Detroit community initiatives at the Gilbert Family Foundation, Adams is in a “once-in-a-lifetime role” heading up many of the core philanthropic initiatives — with many targeted at the city’s housing space — spearheaded by Detroit billionaire businessman Dan Gilbert and his wife, Jennifer. Adams spoke with Crain’s on the changes he’s seen in Detroit’s housing space over the last decade, where things might be headed and why the proposed land value tax pitched by Detroit Mayor Mike Duggan is sorely needed.

How would you characterize where the Detroit housing space stands now compared to a decade or so ago when you started in this business? I still study the real estate market (every morning). I still look at all the neighborhoods across the city to see how they’re performing against maybe the previous month or year. It is hot and it’s constantly changing, and it’s constantly changing for a lot of reasons.

As demolition (of blighted properties) is occurring, values are increasing. As new construction happens, or even new assets (such as a co ee shop or new bar) are coming online in the neighborhoods. ose are assets that are also creating more value to the neighboring houses. And so, I love the direction that Detroit’s housing market is going.

I worry that it’s getting a bit out of reach for most residents who have been here and who may be renting and are looking to own a home. And that worries me because the last thing we need to see is a signi cant displacement of a lot of residents being pushed into the inner ring suburbs.

Given that constant change in the market, and the fact that the Gilbert Family Foundation where you work has its core focus around housing issues in the city, how does the organization continue to adapt to stay current with those shifts?

e work that we’re doing now is more important today than it has ever been before, and around helping to support Detroiters accessing the resources that they need to stay in their houses. ere are programs like the Homeowners Property Exemption (HOPE) that the city o ers, which are tied to so many additional resources.

And so, us standing up the Detroit Tax Relief Fund and making sure that residents can have this clean slate and get back to owning their home is important, because it preserves that home, but it also unlocks additional resources that they may need to keep their home maintained, like home repair resources.

What are the issues in the housing space you’d say you’re most closely monitoring?

Accessibility is de nitely top of mind. Are there ways that we can build and rehab housing cheaper, faster, smarter than the way we’re doing it today? I think that Detroit is going to continue to grow from some sort of a climate resilience perspective, and so that’s one piece that’s one thing I’m thinking about.

e other thing I’m thinking about is how our tax structure is still preventing growth from happening in the city, and so watching the land value tax move along. I’m just really curious to see how that plays out because in the event that that passes, that will do a lot of good for the city as far as growth and also lowering the taxes for residents.

ere’s a lot of reasons why people just don’t live in the

city of Detroit, because the tax structure is really out of whack. So, working on ways to make housing more accessible for Detroiters, and then also looking at what are the new tax models that legislators and policymakers are considering that will help places like Detroit move a little bit di erently in the future.

Has the Gilbert Family Foundation formally come out in favor of Mayor Duggan’s land value tax pitch?

Not at all. We have not formally come out. It’s a thing (where) whatever happens happens, but we’re going to continue supporting the needs that Detroit has. But (it’s) just something that our eyes (are) on because when you think about the land value tax, basically it’s increasing the taxable value on vacant land, versus the structure right … We are pro-land value tax.

Much of your organization’s work has focused on supporting blight removal and demolition work, while also supporting home repair efforts. How is the Gilbert Family Foundation balancing those efforts as Detroit’s housing market and broader economy change?

I think that those who are making decisions about demolition today are being a lot more thoughtful about what they demolish.

A total loss is a total loss, but (some) are salvageable.

Here’s the thing: I drive through the neighborhoods often, and I’ve driven through my own neighborhood where maybe 10 or 11 years ago my childhood home was for sale for $5,000. I think it sold for less than that. e neighborhood (was) completely blown out and it needed a lot of demolition.

And now, a lot of the houses that needed to be torn down are gone and the houses that are rehabbed are really being rehabbed. My parents and I are shocked. ere are like four houses on our old block that are being rehabbed, and I think that that’s because the need for housing is so great at this point that it makes sense to rehab more than it does to demolish, but it still makes sense to demolish what needs to be demolished.

So as you continue to go about this work, what’s keeping you up at night?

I think what keeps me up at night is knowing how big this all is. What we’re doing is really hard, and if it were easy, it would be done. It keeps me up because you’ll see it when you believe it.

Most people are skeptics, and we’re not skeptics. We believe Detroit will continue to grow in all facets. ere are a lot of issues that Detroit is facing and we don’t have the time that we need to really do it all. I think timing, the urgency of it. Detroit is rapidly growing so fast that it’s really important that we make sure that Detroiters are always prioritized to be at the table and to be involved with whatever changes are positively impacting the city. And sometimes that can get lost in translation when something new is happening.

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