Gilbert owns downtown Detroit, but who owns the most private land in the whole city?

Jun 20, 2013

Earlier today we posted a story with a map of all of Dan Gilbert’s properties in downtown Detroit.

That got us thinking, who else owns a lot of property in Detroit?

In 2011, the Detroit News compiled an interactive map that shows private landownership. Click on each person or company and you can see how much land they own across the city – it’s a lot.

So who owns the most?

Michael G. Kelly, an unassuming investor from Grosse Pointe Woods.

Christine Macdonald wrote an article that goes with the map. At the time of her report, Kelly owned 1,152 parcels in Detroit – most of them empty lots and buildings.

Matt M. Tatarian – a business partner of Kelly – owns 1,003 parcels.

Manny Moroun also owns a lot, about 619 parcels.

These men and others buy cheap Detroit properties in bulk, hoping to resell them for a larger profit.

Land speculators like Kelly buy specific properties needed for other plans. For example, he owns a couple of properties in the footprint of the new bridge between Detroit and Windsor.

So while Dan Gilbert owns the most property downtown, his 30-odd buildings seem small compared to what Kelly, Tatarian, Moroun, and others own. But unlike those men, Gilbert has plans to redevelop his properties and not just sit on them.

While it is a little dated now, the map still gives you a good idea of how much land these individuals and companies own.

-Julia Field, Michigan Radio Newsroom