At press time, Quicken Loans founder Dan Gilbert and a team of nearly 60 people were burning the midnight oil to answer Amazon’s “Request for Proposal.” If you haven’t heard, Detroit and cities across North America are scrambling to become the site for Amazon’s “HQ2.”
The stakes are high. Amazon expects to invest over $5 billion in construction and provide as many as 50,000 high-paying jobs — and company officials say spillover benefits might create “tens of thousands of additional jobs and tens of billions of dollars in additional investment.”
That’s tantalizing fruit to dangle in front of any metropolitan region.
A local player raised their hand: Southfield may offer Amazon the site of the now-vacant Northland Mall. It could be fitting, since the online shopping giant’s rise had a hand in the demise of malls across the country like Northland, the world’s first shopping mall.
One thing Amazon insists upon: a place with “the potential to attract and retain strong technical talent.” That leads to our cover story on “Remodeling Suburbia” (page 54). One of the telling lines in Associate Editor Lou Blouin’s piece on how national trends are impacting our region: “And today’s 20- and 30-somethings, who, in general, prefer smaller-footprint housing that’s embedded in walkable communities, aren’t drawn to the car-fueled suburban dream like their parents were.”
As Blouin looked into how a suburb like Troy considers how to adapt to the “new demographics,” I stopped in at Crain’s Detroit Homecoming. For the past four years, Crain’s has organized the event with a goal to help spur investment and “reconnect Detroit expats with their hometown.”
One highlight was a tour of the vacant Michigan Central railroad building. I couldn’t help but think that the vista overlooking the Detroit River and Windsor would make a great penthouse view.
Then again, it could also make a really nice spot for a certain international company’s new headquarters.