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Urbane Apts

310 W 6th St
Royal Oak, MI 48067

Eric Brown

How does someone go from apartment building manager to social media maven?
You have to market your product. I thought if we could figure out a way to drive people to our website, we should have a better chance of getting a tour and then a rental. In late 2004, we started fooling around with social media and we really started to gain some traction with that. By early 2005, we abandoned all traditional marketing.

Social media and search engine optimization services are all the rage now. Could we reach a point where more money is spent on that sort of marketing than on more traditional means?
Whenever you get the customer to talk about your product, you believe it. If your friend tells you that, then it has a much-higher value. If you read it online from someone you don't even know, it has a much-higher value. We're all numb to traditional marketing.

What opportunities in southeast Michigan do you see that other developers are missing?
Development anywhere requires a whole lot more cash than ever before. The lenders have gone absolutely mad. There are companies and very successful people who are sitting on a war chest of cash. They are able to take advantage.

Are there opportunities in Detroit proper that you'd like to take advantage of?
We've started working on a project called MoveToDetroit.org, and we are asking ourselves where is the tipping point? Is it when 1,500 people move to Midtown? Is it 15,000? At some number there is a tipping point. If you put people on the streets, crime goes somewhere else and commerce always follows people. We think if we help create some connections and community, it will make a difference.
If you had $200M but had to invest it in developing living spaces in Detroit what would you do?
What I worry about is keeping our young people here. I would work to connect those dots and build actual communities in Detroit. Create a product that is more aimed at someone's first apartment or incubator space to attract that young talent. You can start filling in the stuff if you have the people living there.

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