WHEN I GRADUATED FROM U-M IN 2015, I was unsure of my long-term professional goals, but knew I wanted to be in Detroit. I now work as a development associate at The Platform, a real estate development firm founded in February 2016 with the goal of rebuilding Detroit. I wake up every morning excited that I can help my favorite city grow while also learning a tremendous amount about real estate. For that, I have the Alumni Association’s LEAD Scholars Program to thank.
LEAD’s financial assistance allowed me to graduate debt-free from the LSA Honors Program. That, in turn, allowed me to venture into the world of Detroit real estate. I am currently in the process of purchasing a duplex on the west side of the city with another U-M alumna. Obtaining a mortgage in the city is challenging, but obtaining a loan while burdened with student debt is nearly impossible. Though the home-buying process has taken longer and been far more complicated than I ever anticipated, it has also provided me with an invaluable experience. I now have firsthand knowledge of the marketplace. My own path to purchasing will be useful as I aspire to be a socially just real estate developer for others.
Without the LEAD staff’s guidance, I never would have made the connections that led to my current job. At the 2015 LEAD Spring Celebration, I enjoyed a conversation with U-M Vice President for Development Jerry May. Through the networks Jerry shared with me, I met a real estate developer and adjunct lecturer at the Ross School of Business named Peter Allen. In addition to teaching MBA classes in real estate, Peter teaches “Real Estate Essentials,” a course for Detroit residents at the U-M Detroit Center. It was in his class that I won first place for my individual-term project and caught the attention of Dietrich Knoer, an adviser to the course and one of the principals at The Platform.
Most of The Platform’s projects are located in the New Center and the Milwaukee Junction neighborhoods of the city, but we are also investing in the outer neighborhoods, such as Brightmoor, Islandview, and Livernois at 6 Mile Road. With the majority of Detroit residents living outside the greater downtown Detroit area, investing in these less-affluent areas is fundamental to an equitable revitalization. As another principal in the firm likes to say, “The heart of the city is downtown, but the soul is in the neighborhoods.”
Learn more about LEAD Scholars at umalumni.com/LEAD.