Jim Ketai | Revitalizing Detroit
Jim was born and raised in the Detroit suburbs. He has positive memories of the dynamic neighborhood full of families raising their kids and a strong public school environment. Also clear in his memory is a downtown visited on special occasions or to shop at Hudson’s, once America’s largest department store.
Jim attributes Detroit’s early lack of public transportation to the fact that it was the hub for automotive companies, making car ownership king. He wonders how different things might have been, had public transportation been implemented.
Many companies have maintained their presence in downtown Detroit through thick and thin, however, during this time of new investment, attracting and retaining top talent is the priority. Bedrock’s success has sparked competition and investment by others in downtown Detroit, helping bring young people and new businesses to the Central Business District.
Jim went to Michigan State College of Law and laughs about how many of his work colleagues now, were old neighbors and classmates of his when he was younger. Specifically, his friend Dan Gilbert, Founder and Chairman of Quicken Loans.
As Quicken Loans grew, Jim and Dan deepened discussions about moving the mortgage lender’s headquarters downtown from its suburban location in Livonia, MI. From there, they began to lay the foundation for major change.
Although Jim shares that he was not quite sure what the future held, he also wasn’t afraid of failure. He believed that as long as they never had a plan B and only focused on plan A, this was something that could be successful.
By the end of 2010, Jim and Dan had formed their company, and by January 2011, they had their first acquisition.
Just seven years later, Bedrock’s portfolio includes more than 100 properties, mostly concentrated within Detroit’s Central Business District and downtown Cleveland.
Now, downtown Detroit is home to tenants like Google, Facebook, Twitter, and Microsoft. Jim shares proudly that the residential, retail, restaurant, transportation, and arts scene have all been growing steadily.
If a developer calls me up and says I’m interested in Detroit, I’m like ‘Great, let me tour you through everything we’ve done, let me teach you what we know, and let me help you to acquire something and compete with me.’ …The more you help people, the better it is.
Jim’s parting advice is that it’s okay to fail because that’s how we all learn and get better.