FCA deal expected to spur supplier expansions, but not without challenges

Detroit schools borrow more and more to pay back bonds

Michigan beyond 11th hour as Asian carp move closer to Great Lakes

Techstars Startup Week Detroit set to kick off June 17

Bob Winter returns to ad agency Leo Burnett as Detroit chief creative officer

Dan Mullen leaving Gilberts Bedrock real estate company

Realtors plan $1.12 million rehab of East Grand Boulevard building

Economy could be losing steam as regional banks expect limited growth, survey finds

Census: West Michigan leads growth in Michigan; Detroit decline slows

Why co-working spaces are an economic game-changer

Buyer activity picks up in metro Detroit, as inventory issues continue

Nessel vows to move on shutting down Enbridges Line 5 pipeline in 30 days

AAA: Michigan gas prices rise 7 cents to $2.87 per gallon

Energy-intensive cannabis industry to boost demand on electric grid in Michigan

AAA: Michigan gas prices up 3 cents to $2.91 per gallon

Techstars Startup Week Detroit set to kick off June 17

Detroits first PGA tournament boosts local business, nonprofits a month before event

Michigan Israel Business Accelerator hires new CEO

Barbecue restaurant to open on Livernois-McNichols corridor

Warren Buffett boosts stake in Delta Air Lines

New venture capital firm to focus on health care IT

UM spinoff puts $8 million funding round to use

Bank of Ann Arbor exec talks lines of credit, investing and Michigan

Royal Oak Brewery to reopen with fresh look Lemonade stand along the Cut Wahlburgers heads to Flint

Poke Burri restaurant to occupy former Le Petit Zinc space in Midtown

Oak Parks first gastropub to open later this year

Southfield-based Wing Snob cooks up expansion plans

Wayne State develops novel geocoded map to improve health outcomes throughout Michigan

Francine Parker to retire as executive director of UAW Retiree Medical Benefits Trust

Whitmer signs auto insurance reform law at Mackinac Policy Conference

Legal aid professor to run Michigan Unemployment Insurance Agency

Femminineo, Gant to fill court vacancies in Macomb, Oakland counties

Public visitation, funeral services set for Judge Damon Keith

Damon Keith remembered for legacy of mentorship that launched dozens of careers

Italian automotive supplier plans new manufacturing plant in Detroit

Stafford family finds like-minded owners for Greenville Daily News, printing business

Wolverine joins other footwear giants in calling tariffs catastrophic in letter to Trump

5-Hour Energy founder preps water-purifier venture

Energy-intensive cannabis industry to boost demand on electric grid in Michigan

Marijuana is legal now, but Southeast Michigan employers arent relaxing drug screening policies

Let caregivers supplement medical marijuana shortage

Michigans first medical marijuana delivery service hits the street

NOMINATIONS OPEN: Crains Excellence in HR Awards

NOMINATIONS OPEN: Notable Women in Education in Michigan

NOMINATIONS OPEN: Notable Women in Law in Michigan

NOMINATIONS CLOSED: Notable Women in Real Estate in Michigan

Crains Forum: The road-funding divide is a canyon

Buch, Lavrenz, Lynch: Innovation investments would extend life of roads

Beverly Watts: Wayne County running out of Band-Aids for local roads

Dennis Kolar: How to make Michigan roads last longer

Grand Angels third investment fund could top out at $25 million

AgHelp connects migrant farm workers with jobs, health care and social services

Envoy brings small manufacturers wares to retailers across country

Special Report: Checking the current in Grand Rapids

State opens new investigation into Legionnaires case at McLaren Flint

Flint misdemeanor will stand for now against ex-state health chief

Conflict in Michigan AGs office over Flint water records

Flint water scandal prosecutor Todd Flood out after 3 years

Real Estate Insider: Every milestone the Ilitches have to meet on Hotel Eddystone redevelopment

Ford mulls hotel space instead of residential in Michigan Central Station

Bill Ford: Ford would welcome other automakers in Corktown ecosystem

DTE, Ford link up for wind farm green energy project

Big Dates: A Guide to Charity Events Across Metro Detroit in 2019

Nelson father-son duo plans to maintain Eastern Markets identity

Sanford Nelson has quietly acquired a 142,500-square-foot Eastern Market portfolio over the last 18 months

Portfolio includes the building that houses Supino Pizzeria and Russell Street Deli, as well as the Berts Warehouse

Important to the Nelsons and their investors that the food district maintain its identity

Sanford Nelson has had a two-year crash course in Detroit commercial real estate.

Sanford Nelson has had a two-year crash course in Detroit commercial real estate, with the result being a 142,500-square-foot Eastern Market portfolio quietly acquired over the last 18 months.

Son of millionaire serial entrepreneur Linden Nelson, the 29-year-old has his eyes set on a $20 million effort to buy and improve no fewer than 11 properties in the countrys largest public food market. The plan could balloon to $100 million or so, depending on what the father-son team, along with their other investors, do with the properties, including mostly vacant land, they have assembled in that time frame, Linden Nelson said.

The portfolio includes perhaps two of the most well-known buildings in the food district: The building that houses Supino Pizzeria and Russell Street Deli, as well as the Berts Warehouse building to the north on Russell Street.

While real estate investors have steadily streamed into Eastern Market in the past several years, including a New York City-based company that earlier this weekCrainsfirst reportedis planning a large-scale mixed-use development across a block and a half of Adelaide Street nearby, its important to the Nelsons and their investors that the food district maintain its identity.

Sanford, who went to the University of Colorado at Boulder and then the University of Michigan, says Eastern Market cant turn into a homogenized, watered-down version of itself, as food districts in other major cities have been developed beyond recognition.

Our biggest thing is our commitment to maintaining what Eastern Market is all about, said Nelson, whose company is called Firm Real Estate LLC, based in Detroit.

It cant become like some of the other food districts in this country like the Meat Packing District in New York or the Fulton District in Chicago, where it has been redeveloped to the point where the food industry really no longer even exists there. That cannot happen and will not happen in Eastern Market.

Dan Carmody, the president of the Eastern Market Corp. who has been working with the Nelsons on honing their plan, agreed.

We are painfully aware that other food districts like Eastern Market have disappeared when a tsunami of real estate investment popped in, he said.

In the last 18 months, Sanford and Linden Nelson and their investors have been buying Eastern Market properties, creating a portfolio of more than 140,000 square feet. Here are the properties so far.Click on each property for details about it.

The Nelson duos effort comes with the backing of some big names in Detroit business, all of whom have an equity stake in the project Sanford Nelson says will keep current retail and restaurant tenants in their buildings and give them the opportunity to expand, as well as recruit new niche businesses.

Others involved include: Don Foss, the billionaire founder of Credit Acceptance, considered the first company to offer subprime auto loans; Marvin Beatty, a Detroit developer who is also chief community officer for Greektown Casino-Hotel; and Larry Mongo, the owner of Cafe dMongos Speakeasy on Griswold Street downtown.

I was born and raised in Detroit, Foss, who was not made available for an interview, said in a statement provided toCrains. Its great to see all the activity happening in the city, and I am excited to invest and be a part of the revitalization effort.

Beatty confirmed Foss and Mongos investments in the project. The precise terms of the business structure were not disclosed. He said he has known Linden Nelson for about 15 years and the two have been talking about doing business together for about a decade.

Late 16, mid-2016, we really started looking at the possibilities and trying to identify where our target area would be and what kind of things, Beatty said. Weve been talking, and we see some great opportunity in areas that others have not yet saw as a real opportunity and we are going to pursue some of those.

Sanford Nelson said he first got interested in real estate when he moved to downtown Detroit 4 years ago.

I began following the progress of various projects around the city and educating myself on the ever changing market conditions in various neighborhoods around Detroit, he said.

What ultimately sparked my desire to pursue real estate development was that I realized as a developer, one can create opportunity for others, be it opportunity for someone to find a place to live, or an opportunity for small-business owners to find space and launch their concept. As a developer, its very fulfilling for me to be a part of that solution and to cultivate opportunity that will help foster growth in Detroit.

While larger development plans could be on the horizon, first things first, the Nelsons said in their unassuming office tucked behind an L.A. Fitness gym that Linden Nelson developed at Maple and Crooks roads in Troy.

The office, with its single glass door, opens to what ends up being a cavernous gallery of art, cars and movie props.

They both said the first step in their project is to bring the Eastern Market buildings they own up to snuff, addressing deferred maintenance. Once that happens, a better determination will be made about whether and how much new space to build.

Work on the vacant buildings is expected to begin immediately now that the Rocky Investment Co. deal has been finalized. The time frame for completing the rehabs varies, Sanford Nelson said.

But within the next few months, some of the more immediate maintenance issues will be completed, he said.

The sale of Berts Warehouse, 2727-2739 Russell St., marks the end of a grueling few years for the business. In 2015, it was put to auction twice, where it fetcheda high bidof $2 million the second time around. It never actually sold, however.

Sanford Nelson stressed that he and his investors do not own the restaurant, but are merely owner Bert Dearings new landlord.

The Berts Warehouse sale wasfirst reportedbyThe Detroit Newson Wednesday evening. Sanford Nelson said a $1.6 million sale price the newspaper reported was not accurate.

We did not buy Berts. Bert owns Berts, he said. We partnered with Bert to acquire the property. It is a privilege for us to be partners with a true Detroit icon. That Bert chose us to be his partner speaks to the friendship and trust that has formed between myself, Jai Lee (Berts son), Bert and my father.

I chose the Nelsons to be my partner because they are good people, Dearing said in a statement to Crains. We share the same vision, the same dreams, and we are both passionate about food, art and music. The Nelsons have a lot of great projects in the works and we are excited to be a part of it. We are looking forward to the future.

Sanford Nelson was having a difficult time getting his foot in the door with the Russo family, which owned the eight-building Rocky portfolio he wanted to buy. As hard as he tried, he wasnt making any headway in reaching the family about a deal.

We needed a tenacious broker, said Linden Nelson, a 1998Crains40 Under 40 honoreewho made what was then a $100 million fortune in the 1980s and 1990s after selling Ford Motor Co. on a detachable key ring for valet parkers.

That broker was longtime family friend Steve Gordon, founder and president of Southfield-based Signature Associates Inc.

He couldnt get anywhere, Gordon said of the younger Nelson, adding that the father-son team and their other investors have several other properties under contract. These Rocky sellers have been approached by everybody and got very comfortable with this buying group, and it could have been done on a handshake.

Carmody sees the Nelsons and their investment group as a boon for Eastern Market in the near and long-term future.

They are bringing a lot of energy and the work so far that they are talking about doing fits with our strategy for what needs to happen where it stays about food and is a place where everybody is welcomed and is a place that supports independent small businesses, he said.

And in spite of a tough go at the beginning, Gordon is optimistic about the future of the food district with the Nelsons and their investors owning a large chunk of it.

They are going to change the landscape of Eastern Market for the positive, Gordon said.

Make sure you dont miss a thing by subscribing to our newsletters.

With a Crains Detroit Membership you get exclusive access, insights and experiences to help you succeed in business.