John White: A Story of Revitalizing a Detroit Neighborhood

JohnWhiteSept2014Recently, when many people talk about the “rebirth of Detroit”, they proudly point to the flurry of redevelopment and resurgence mainly in three areas of our city: Downtown, Midtown, and Corktown. But as we native and long-time Detroiters know, there is much, much more to Detroit than those areas. People look to rehabilitation projects such as the El Moore for inspiration, but there is a lot of great work being done in many other neighborhoods in Detroit.

John White is a long-time Detroit resident who has been working to redevelop one of those neighborhoods for over 15 years. We met John a few months ago when he started regularly attending the weekly Friday Community Lunches held at the Green Garage Detroit. The Green Garage is an historic and sustainable business incubator and co-working community two blocks north of the El Moore, and the “parent company” of the El Moore project.

John is the founder and co-owner of Stanton Properties, a real estate and redevelopment company located in the near northwest side of Detroit. Stanton Properties has slowly and steadily been preparing a large area for redevelopment: the boundaries are the I-94 freeway, 16th Street, Warren, and Grand River.

During a recent interview just before a Friday Community Lunch, John told us how he started investing in Detroit, how he is progressing with his project, and why he is so positive about the direction Detroit is going. Here are some of John’s thoughts:

The Stanton Properties project take a total of 25 years to come to full implementation; the total investment is estimated to be about $25 million. Much of the initial revenue for buying up land and property came from the profits of a 3-day-a-week flea market that was held in the area.

The project is progressing in three phases:

Retail: John has talked with many businesses and business owners, but many business owners do not want to be “the first” in an area. But he is currently working with several commercial Realtors. John envisions the eventual retail component, which has about 500 sq. Ft. As frontage on Grand River, to provide between 50-75 jobs.

Residential and Infrastructure: There are presently only 9-10 homes still standing, most of which are now owned by Stanton Properties, including John and his business partner, Doris Triggs.

Recreation: John envisions a “Boys and Girls Club”-like recreation center to be built in the area.

John is almost sure that he will not apply for outside financing at this point, because investors usually want a fast return on their money, and he is building up this area with patience and a willingness to see things through.

John advises other small and independent businesspeople who desire to redevelop an area to generate a “game plan”, watch for opportunities, talk to as many people as possible, and learn from others.

John receives many ideas and a great deal of inspiration from the entrepreneurs at the Green Garage and the founders of the El Moore project.

John and Doris, co-founders of Stanton Properties, can be reached by phone at (313) 247-2809 or via email: 5170riverwood@sbcglobal.net.

El Moore