Gilbert buys Federal Reserve Building as he opens M@dison for new business

Posted on January 30, 2012

Quicken Loans Inc. founder Dan Gilbert said Monday that he has bought the vacant former Federal Reserve Building in downtown Detroit — a structure he hopes to fill with a large, single tenant.

A price wasn’t disclosed for the building that housed the former Detroit Branch of Federal Reserve of Chicago at 160 W. Fort St., at the corner of Fort and Shelby. The 176,000-square-foot structure has been empty since 2004, when the Federal Reserve moved its Detroit branch office to Warren Avenue in Detroit.

“Today’s announcement is a great start to what looks to be a very busy and exciting year,” said Matt Cullen, CEO of Rock Ventures, an umbrella company that coordinates and integrates investments by Quicken Loans’ family of companies.

The company will be “making additional building purchases where it makes sense,” he added in a statement.

It is the ninth building in downtown that Gilbert’s real estate unit has purchased in the past year. He is now credited with being the second largest private owner of office space in Detroit’s Central Business District behind General Motors Co., which owns the Renaissance Center.

Gilbert’s revelation came during a tour of what was described as “the crown jewel” of the downtown collection of Quicken Loans founder’s building purchases, the $12 million renovation of the Madison Theatre in Grand Circus Park.

The five-story historic building, empty for years, has undergone a vibrant, high-tech renovation and now serves as an incubator for venture capital firms, media companies and start-ups.

The open, loft-like spaces are full of Detroit photos, big-screen televisions and stunning downtown views.

“We want this to be the launch pad for new companies,” said Josh Linkner, CEO and managing partner of Detroit Venture Partners.

The firm occupies one and a half floors of the building now dubbed the M@dison. Quicken Loans, the nation’s largest online home mortgage company, was ranked No. 10 among Fortune magazine’s recent list of top places to work. Quicken Loans earned the highest ranking among Michigan companies.

It isn’t clear what kind of tenant would be interested in the former Detroit Federal Reserve facility, which was built in 1927 and has an eight-story glass and marble annex.

Louis Aguilar, The Detroit News