Blog: Marilyn Nix, Rachele Downs, & Jumana Judeh

The new Detroit Revitalization Fellowship Program garnered 650 applicants for 30 spots -  proof positive that the city's real estate is a hot topic. A trio from CREW Detroit, the founding member of a national organization of women commercial real estate pros, blogs on how their group and incoming fellows will be stamping a new ID on the city.

Jumana Judeh: A Woman’s Place…Is in Detroit’s Transformation thinking of Detroit, the first thought that comes to mind is transformation - which by default deals with real estate.  Detroit can't reform back to what it used to be. The city needs to transform into a tightly organized, cohesive unit that attracts and welcomes global business.  While the region's history is engrained in local and home-grown success, our future must be much bigger than that if we are going to grow and sustain meaningful development and a vibrant corporate community. For businesses to come into the city, they need space that meets their demands, whether it is in design or cost.  For Detroit real estate to be attractive to global business, it needs new ideas, expertise, urgency, team work and innovation.  No longer can individual experts work in silos as has been the tradition.  Everyone needs to be at the table in the beginning to better serve and meet the needs of the global world.   

This new concept is exactly what has been the most recent discussion among the Detroit Chapter of Commercial Real Estate Women (CREW).  These real estate professionals are constantly brainstorming about different ways to meet the changing needs of the business world.  The CREW team, about 120 members strong, includes real estate professionals representing all facets of this field – architects, engineers, bankers, lawyers, appraisers, environmentalists, developers and more.  The energy that exists in the room when these women come together to discuss commercial real estate is beyond description.  No one is quiet.  Everyone has an opinion.  And everyone has the experience and the will to make things happen.

Whether it is right or wrong, society raises women differently, which actually gives us an advantage in the business of customer service.  No one is better than a woman to find creative ways of making things happen in a constantly changing environment.  As women, we are quick to take stock of what is happening, who are the players, and what do they need, then developing a strategy that can successfully meet those needs.

Global business is new to Detroit, at least at the level it exists today.  These business owners need someone to understand their different ways of doing business.  They will not be coerced into a box of traditional space.  Having ONE team to meet all their demands from site location to design to construction to moving is the most efficient and least expensive path.

I have been lucky to work on several transformation projects within the city, especially those in Midtown.  I have seen old abandoned industrial buildings transformed into exciting lofts on the upper floors and retail on the first with some mixture of office space.  I have seen investors take the necessary risk to transform their small area of Detroit.  I have seen developers look at dilapidated neighborhoods on the East Side and see opportunity.

Business goes where it is welcome and stays where it is nurtured. No place in the world has greater ability to welcome global business and provide the necessary tools for growth than Detroit.  We have the land, the buildings, the brain power, and the willingness and ability to serve.