Students in The School of Hospitality Business traveled to Detroit on Sunday, November 21, with hotel feasibility expert Wanda Spencer to learn more about the city’s economic progress and opportunities that exist within Detroit’s real estate market. The eight students, all members of The School’s Real Estate Investment Club (REIC), are Garrett Ross (BA ’11), Garrett Smeltzer (BA ’11), Michael Moriarty (BA ’11), Genna Panagopoulos (BA ’11), Damon Young (BA ’11), Michael Erlingis (BA ’12), Clayton Meyers (BA ’13) and Anthony Pecchia (BA ’13).

The club members started their day by visiting the renowned Westin Book Cadillac Hotel, where they met with General Manager Tim Freisen, toured the property, and learned about the highly complex financing structure that supported the hotel’s redevelopment.

Following lunch at the New Parthenon in Greektown, the students met Austin Black II, broker and president of City Living Detroit, a full-service, boutique-style real estate sales firm in Midtown. Mr. Black took the group on a tour of Willys Overland Lofts, a custom loft redevelopment project of a former sales and service facility for the Willys-Overland Motor Company.

The visit to Detroit ended with a visit to The Beal Group, a real estate development, management, and construction services company. Club members heard from the president, Stewart Beal, who spoke about his entrepreneurial experience and his outlook on the City of Detroit. Mr. Beal’s brother, Patrick (BA ’10), is an alumnus of The School and a former REIC member who now serves as The Beal Group’s vice president. He also spoke to the group about numerous projects in which the company is involved within the city.

Trip organizer and REIC President Garrett Ross found the trip enlightening. “Detroit has certainly had its share of problems,” he says, “but things are starting to happen now. Various groups are putting substantial effort into revitalizing the city and they are extremely passionate about it. The potential is definitely there… especially in terms of real estate development.”

Because of the positive response he received from the club members, Garrett plans to organize a similar trip during the Spring semester.