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Founders

Company

Friedman Real Estate Group Inc.

34975 West 12 Mile Rd.
Farmington Hills, Michigan 48331

David Friedman

You have a large staff, yet you are personally involved in many transactions. What drives you?
I just love this business. I like to develop personal relationships with institutional owners of debt and equities and assist in restructuring, repositioning and value creation of distressed properties. I'm proud to say I've personally been involved in the acquisition and disposition of real estate worth more than $2 billion.

How large is your far-flung empire?
Friedman Real Estate Group has offices in Atlanta, Ga., Boca Raton, Fla., Columbus, Ohio, Indianapolis, Ind., Lexington, Ky., Nashville, Tenn., and Phoenix, Ariz. We deal with companies like LNR, Midland, Northwestern Mutual, Capmark, CWCapital, ING, Crow Holdings and Broadway Partners. Our association with the global real estate services company of Newmark Knight Frank of New York gives us expertise in helping our clients.

Who are your largest tenants in Michigan?
Quicken Loans, Honigman Miller Schwartz and Cohn, ePrize, MARS Advertising, Centex Homes, Pulte Homes, Lowe's, Allied Automotive, Cooper Automotive, CSC Healthcare and Prestolite Wire. We got Quicken Loans into its new headquarters in the Compuware Building in downtown Detroit, and helped (Quicken Chairman) Dan Gilbert buy the Chase Bank Building and Madison Building downtown. We're working on other buildings for him along Woodward Avenue.

You grew up in the suburbs, but are you a big Detroit booster?
I'm a strong believer in the revitalization and future of downtown Detroit. Dan Gilbert and the other business leaders are on the right path to accomplishing a comeback for downtown, and the state. One of our problems is trying to keep young people from leaving the state. Several young employees left my company to move to Chicago, California and elsewhere. But many returned either because they couldn't get jobs there, or they felt they just didn't fit in their new city. There were no relatives or friends, a strange synagogue, etc. There's something to be said for growing up and staying in a friendly atmosphere. I tell this to students when I give lectures at colleges.

What local buildings and properties are you working on now?
We fixed up the Penobscot and First National buildings downtown and got them ready to lease space, and we also have receivership assignments on Parkwood Plaza in Oak Park, Summit Apartments in Farmington Hills and others around the state. We're also working on a variety of residential real estate. In fact, we've sold more than $100 million worth of residential real estate in the past five years.

How do you plan and keep track of all of your activities?
Each day, I review the opportunities with our management team and strategize to take advantage of the best deals. Our big advantage is that we're a full-service group, all under one roof, with single points of contact to help clients in turnaround property situations. Our staff includes several lawyers, accountants, designers and information technology specialists.

Tell us specifically about your brokerage operation.
We have one of the largest independent commercial real estate brokerage operations in the Midwest, with 65 licensed brokers and leasing agents in Michigan and other states. We cover everything from office and retail stores to mobile home parks. (Mitchell Lipton of Bloomfield Hills heads the brokerage operation.)

How about the foreclosure business?
In our company, we call that distressed asset services; providing a broad range of services to those involved with financially troubled real estate. Foreclosures have fallen off slightly, but they're still a big concern. To handle this business, we have construction experts and property managers, and we do asset management, marketing, leasing and loan sales — all in one building.

The recession of the past few years gave a real jolt to the real estate market? Has the market really improved?
I'd say there's been a 50 percent improvement, but things were pretty tough there for awhile. The commercial business is getting better. Home ownership in the Detroit metro area is still down as the foreclosures have forced owners to become renters. But I'm the kind of person who's always optimistic and bullish, even when times are bad. I see the real estate market improving even more as we move into the summer. People are refinancing debt and carrying on. We're all optimistic and bullish at Friedman Real Estate Group.

Bill Carroll is a freelance writer and former public relations specialist for Ford Motor Co.

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