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Matt Cullen: Sparking the Revitalization of Detroit’s Tomorrow

Bedrock Detroit CEO and Chairman of the Detroit Riverfront Conservancy Matt Cullen gave a sneak preview to the company’s future projects in downtown Detroit at the 2020 Detroit Policy Conference in conversation with Detroit Regional Chamber President and CEO Sandy K. Baruah. Cullen leads Bedrock Detroit’s efforts to spark development and revitalization in the city, which included Quicken Loans’ national headquarters move to Detroit in 2010. 

Cullen’s speech focused on the progress Detroit has made in the last decade, such as vibrant downtown landmarks like Campus Martius and the riverfront, and what developments it can look forward to in the decade to come like the Hudson site, which Cullen noted will be off the ground this year. 

When talking about the progress made in the past decade, Cullen played a video from his 2013 Detroit Policy Conference speech, in which he explains that sparking activity downtown depended on the retailers – but retailers were dependent on people coming downtown. This chicken-and-egg scenario could only be solved by a “big-bang”, Cullen had explained, which happened when Bedrock Detroit went all in on reimagining downtown. 

“We wanted to be a part of influencing what could happen in the city of Detroit,” said Cullen. 

Today, downtown Detroit is unrecognizable compared to a decade ago. Bedrock Detroit’s offices are currently around 95% full, noted Cullen. With 17,000 people and 120 retailers, downtown Detroit has seen a transformation with the investment of Bedrock Detroit. 

Along with the success of downtown, Bedrock Detroit is shifting its focus to bring resources to Detroit’s neighborhoods. Rock Ventures Family of Companies has put in 130,000 hours of volunteer work into the city, said Cullen. He’s now focused on creating affordable housing for people of various incomes. 

“I’m making sure opportunities are available for the people that live in the city of Detroit,” said Cullen. “If the neighborhoods don’t do well, the city isn’t going to do well.” 

Read more about this session on Crain’s Detroit Business.