What would you rather have — a gargantuan, vacant hulk of a factory complex or a thriving artist colony /small business incubator? In Detroit, with 23% unemployment (Michigan as a state is just under 14% right now), the city is a veritable desert of old factories and abandoned buildings.
Time Magazine did an entire series based on the city last year, painting it as a sinking ship being abandoned by residents and business alike. Check out the magazine’s Detroit Blog: One Year One City, and a stunning photoessay titled The Remains of Detroit for a sobering picture.
Yet one entrepreneur has stumbled into an opportunity he didn’t predict, as outlined in Fortune’s July 5, 2010 article “Factory of Dreams”.
Giving a home to artists and start-ups
Dennis Kefalinos purchased the 2.2 million square foot Russell Industrial Complex for $1.5 million in 2003, gambling manufacturing or industrial tenants would appear. They haven’t.
But seven years later, he has filled 25% of the factory with artists and small businesses who pay $550 a month, heat included, for 1000-square-foot studios / shops. And he didn’t pursue this angle. The tenants came to him, one at a time, at a rate now of one new tenant a week.
He’s a long way from 100% capacity, but here’s an excellent example of how we have to start from scratch and not market a property for one particular use. Market your listings as “flex space / office / retail” rather than just one label, and who knows what will come out of the woodwork!Flickr photo courtesy Bob Jagendorf