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Expats find real estate deals are a way to add to Detroit By KIRK PINHO

The Detroit native who currently splits her time between Florida and Tennessee made her first real estate investment in the city, where she grew up on Atkinson Street.

Hers is a tale like those of many others who have attended the Detroit Homecoming event the last three years, and who are attending this year's event that starts Wednesday: One way to contribute to Detroit is investing their money in real estate development deals.

Today, the president and CEO of suburban Orlando-based venture capital firm The Dominion Asset Group's money is in four wildly different projects — and she expects more to follow.

For Sebastian, those deals are the DuCharme Place apartment project in Lafayette Park; the Assemble Sound music studio, which repurposed a former Corktown church; the redevelopment of the former Tiger Stadium site; and a real estate fund by Century Partners, which is redeveloping homes along the street where she was raised.

Teresa Sebastian

"They were projects that are really being catalysts and anchors for the turnaround of Detroit, so that was very important, and they are projects that spur some economic benefits to the community in terms of jobs and housing, and they were certainly viable because they are attractions for individuals," said Sebastian, who left Michigan in 2010 and returns this week for the fourth Detroit Homecoming.

She declined to reveal how much she invested.

Tess Mateo

Tess Mateo, who went to Troy Athens High School and the University of Michigan, said she has invested about $200,000 in over a dozen residential and commercial properties, plus vacant land, in the city since she attended Detroit Homecoming I in 2014. The managing director of CXCatalysts, Mateo said she was speaking with someone from Detroit-based Loveland Technologies Inc. that year when she heard about properties selling for $500 at the Wayne County tax-foreclosure auction.

"I'm from New York, so $500 is like a few dinners," she said with a laugh.

Since then, Mateo's contractors, Detroit-based Building Hugger and Corktown Maintenance, have provided jobs to dozens of unemployed and/or homeless people to renovate the properties, which are not only in the greater downtown area, but also neighborhoods like Warrendale and East English Village.

John Rhea

Others, like Detroit native John Rhea, have been more publicly active in downtown real estate. For example, he is planning a nearly 300-acre multifamily housing development in Brush Park with a mix of incomes and home styles, ranging from apartments to carriage houses and townhomes. He is also a member of the ownership team of the Fisher Building and Albert Kahn buildings in the New Center area, which were purchased in 2015 for $12.2 million.

The Fisher Building is undergoing a multimillion-dollar renovation; last month, the ownership group put the Kahn Building up for sale for an undisclosed price through the Royal Oak office of JLL.


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