Oct 28, 2019
Dan Gilbert is someone who has spent the last 10 years buying up buildings and property in downtown Detroit, nearly 100 properties, often with the help of generous tax breaks from the City of Detroit, Wayne County and the State of Michigan. So many you can hardly keep count.
But why stop there? Surely there are more opportunities for this billionaire to amass yet more prime property to expand his empire. And it has come in the form of “opportunity zones” created by Trump’s 2017 tax code overhaul. The stated idea was to grant lucrative tax breaks to encourage new investments and development in poor areas around the country.
These certain tracts are supposed to be eligible for the opportunity-zone status based on poverty and income levels.
But lo and behold, 3 swaths of downtown Detroit were selected as opportunity zones under this tax law—areas of downtown that are considered islands of wealth in the city, including Gilbert-owned office space, with such “poor tenants” as Microsoft, J.P. Morgan Chase, Gilbert’s own Quicken Loans, and a luxury hotel!
Does it help to be a billionaire already? Sure! Does it help to be a Trump campaign financial supporter—couldn’t hurt. Does it help that your firm can pay lobbyists to convince the very government department making determinations to revise its list to include Gilbert’s holdings? Maybe not just a coincidence.