Rock Ventures Shows Off Madison Building Restoration
DETROIT (WWJ) – Anyone who doesn’t want to work in downtown Detroit really ought to take a look at 1555 Broadway St.
The 1917-vintage Madison Theatre Building — now rechristened The M@dison by its new owner, Dan Gilbert and his Rock Ventures LLC — has been given a spectacular $12 million makeover into some of the coolest work space anywhere.
Gilbert, Rock Ventures and his Detroit Venture Partners investment team gave local media a tour of the building Monday morning — and actual news broke
out, of another Gilbert building purchase, and a Gilbert-backed startup getting a major Super Bowl deal.
The tour started on a fifth-floor rooftop terrace with a party capacity of 400 that offers a spectacular view of Comerica Park and the surrounding cityscape.
On the fourth floor is Skidmore Studios, the building’s first tenant since the renovation, which relocated from Royal Oak in October, and a 136-seat auditorium.
“Being the huge Tiger fan that I am, when I saw this view of Comerica Park, it was a done deal,” said Skidmore CEO Tim Smith. “We were the first people to jump on board.”
The company has grown from 18 to 24 employees since the move, Smith said. And after the move, Smith said he saw “an immediate uptick in both business and the quality of our creative work,” which he attributed to the energy of the new location.
The building’s third floor houses a business incubator and the offices of Detroit Venture Partners, Gilbert’s business accelerator and venture capital partnership.
One of Gilbert’s partners in the venture, serial entrepreneur and best-selling business author Josh Linkner, said Detroit is seeing an “entrepreneurial movement … transforming a city that 100 years ago was the Silicon Valley of its day, but which lost its way over the last few decades… we’re talking about regaining our mojo.”
Among the portfolio companies on the third floor are hiredMYway.com, a new recruitment and job search Web site, and Are You A Human, a company replacing those irritating wavy letter box tests on Web sites that prove you are indeed human with entertaining (and sponsorable) games.
On the second floor is Doodle Home, an interior design Web site with 10 employees; Exxodus Pictures, a film, video and video game production company with a new movie coming out in a few months, Jinn; and Detroit Labs, a developer of smartphone and iPad apps.
And Detroit Labs made news at the event, announcing that it had developed Chevrolet’s “Chevy Game Time” app that will be used as part of the automaker’s Super Bowl advertising. The Web site will give away thousands of prizes during the Super Bowl, including 20 new Chevrolet vehicles.
Paul Glomski, CEO and co-founder of Detroit Labs, said the company has grown from four to 16 employees in just the past eight months.
Gilbert also announced that Rock Ventures has purchased the 176,000-square-foot former Federal Reserve Bank building, vacant since 2005. The building, at 160 W. Fort St., will be refurbished for business use.
In the past year, Gilbert’s Rock Ventures has purchased nine buildings, three parking structures and one parking lot along Woodward Avenue — or “Webward” Avenue, in the company’s parlance.
* Chase Tower, the original headquarters of the National Bank of Detroit, a 505,000-square-foot, 14-story building constructed in 1959. After extensive renovation, the building became home to more than 1,500 Quicken Loans employees in October.
* First National Building: This Albert Kahn-designed structure, which snakes around an entire city block, was built in 1922. The 600,000-square-foot building is currently undergoing renovation, and retains tenants United Way of Southeastern Michigan and the law firm Honigman, Miller, Schwartz and Cohn.
* Dime Building: Built in 1912 and designed by Daniel Burnham, the building features more than 350,000 square feet on 23 stories. After extensive renovation it is now home to Ameriprise and several other companies.
* The Wright Kay Building: At 1500 Woodward Ave., this six-story brownstone was built in 1891. It is slated to offer street level retail with offices or lofts on the floors above.
* The Lane Bryant Building: Built in 1917, the building offers nearly 45,000 square feet of space at 1520 Woodward Ave.
* The Arts League Building: This six-story building offers more than 43,000 square feet and is being renovated.
* 1880 Woodward: This 4,000-square-foot, one-story building is being eyed for a restaurant or retail space.