TT with HD: Kyle Campbell
KC: I haven't been on one of these in a while. [Ed. note: photography ensues]
HD: Okay, let's get this teeter totter actually moving. You going to be alright?
KC: Yeah! You ever lost anybody over the back?
HD: Chris Easthope came awfully close to actually falling backwards off the end, but he managed to save it in the end. So welcome to the teeter totter!
KC: Thank you!
HD: Did you have any trouble getting here through the Art Fair crowds?
KC: There was a major accident on Main Street and Summit. So that redirected ...
HD: ... oh, man ...
KC: ... yeah, it was all backed up over there.
HD: So how were they directing people?
KC: You had to turn left right there at the party store, and then go up 4th Street, I think. Which is cool, because I haven't been up there in a little while, and there's some really neat, kinda condo things that look like houses up there. That's another one of Ann Arbor's nice streets. I like that neighborhood right there.
HD: So you're familiar with Ann Arbor, then?
KC: I grew up in Ann Arbor.
HD: Did you really!
KC: Yep! I lived here all my life. My dad has lived here, was born and raised here as well, so. Yeah, I'm pretty familiar. I used to live right on Eberwhite.
HD: Okay, so right down the street from here.
HD: Um, did you know, let's see, Tom Wall would have been neighbor of yours then? Do you know him?
KC: Tom Wall. I don't ...
HD: ... the driving school guy?
KC: I don't think so. No. I was just there for a year. Rented it with a couple of friends. I knew Brandon Wiard, who you had out here. I went to school with him.
HD: So when you say you 'went to school', you're talking about high school?
KC: Middle school, actually.
HD: And that was ... ?
KC: ... Greenhills. Yep.
HD: And did you go to college around here, too?
KC: No, I went to the University of Wisconsin in Madison. And that is an awesome city as well. Very similar to Ann Arbor.
HD: They're often compared.
KC: Right. Madison's really nice because it has these two gigantic lakes on both sides.
HD: So did you live in close proximity to those?
KC: Yeah, four years I lived where I could see the water from my window.
HD: Wow. So you ever drop a line in?
KC: Oh yeah! All the time! Actually yeah. That's funny. The lakes weren't that good. Oscar Meyer used to dump lard into one of the lakes, so it was kind of nasty. But it's funny you bring up fishing, because I just bought a boat.
HD: Did you really?
KC: I did.
HD: Like a Bassmaster 2000 or something?
KC: It's a 1971 Starcraft. I bought it for 15 hundred bucks from one of my coworkers.
HD: Are you going to have to restore this thing?
KC: No! It's like a bathtub with an outboard motor on it. Nothing can go wrong, [Ed. note: KC knocks literally on the wood of the totter] but it's pretty solid. It's 36 years old. I just bought it. I've had it in the Detroit River, one of the best places in the world for walleye fishing. And we had it in Belleville Lake last weekend, so.
HD: So you're hauling this boat around on a trailer that you're pulling with your Jeep that you drove over here today?
KC: Yep, yep.
HD: Now, did you own the Jeep before you started working on the Willys Overland Lofts project?
KC: I did not, I did not.
HD: So, what, you bought the vehicle sort of as a gesture of solidarity, or something? [laugh]
KC: Well, you know that didn't hurt the decision, but I had anticipated buying a boat, so I wanted something that would be able to pull it. As well as, we often go up north in the winter skiing and stuff like that. I had driven a Honda Accord for years and years and years, and I just kind of liked being up a little bit. I got a good deal on this car.
HD: When you say 'being up', you mean up high so you can see the road?
KC: Yeah, and I would get stuck constantly in my Honda, so. But you mentioned the Jeep and the Willys Overland, which is the project we're doing in Detroit. This building was built in 1917, as a sales and service station for the Willys Overland Company. Their vehicles eventually morphed into what is today the Jeep. They designed the military jeep that was used in the World Wars. Definitely, I have a lot invested in this project, and I thought the Jeep was just a nice thing to add.
HD: So you had the grand opening on June 8th. How did that go?
KC: We did. It went really well. We were hoping that it would go well. We had a grand opening where we showed one of our finished models. And this construction process has taken a while ...
HD: ... let me ask you about that, because the way the internet works, a lot of times you'll find references to months without the year attached. I know that construction began in May, and I guess for a while I'd been going on the assumption that this was the most recent May . But that's not correct?
KC: No, that is not correct. That could be updated, I'll make a note of that!
HD: Well, it's not a problem with the Willys Overland site, it's just that you find references in various and sundry online publications, and there's not necessarily a dateline so that you can tell. And I myself have no sense for how long this stuff takes, so I was stunned when ...
KC: ... that is was this far along?
HD: Yeah, well grand opening, and I thought, Wow! You know, okay, maybe it's just the one demo model that they're showing for the grand opening, but still from May to June, that seems pretty quick. So construction actually started when?
KC: In '05. And we took this building down to its bricks and concrete. Everything was taken out of it, it was just the structure alone.
HD: Find anything interesting from the Jeep era? Or the public schools owned the building, too, for a long while?
KC: The public schools were in between Willys and us. So they were in that building for about 50 years, the Detroit Public Schools.
HD: So they owned it for the longest time. So did you find anything ...
KC: ... we did. This is one of the coolest things that we found--on the very highest part of the building, which was an elevator shaft, there was kind of a monument. And the monument had a carving in it. It was like a piece of concrete set into the brick. And somebody had taken a stick or something and scrawled out something ...
HD: ... in the wet concrete?
KC: In the wet concrete. It said J. L. January 21st, 1917.
KC: So it was like the original mason leaving his mark on the building.
HD: So was that preserved in some way [during construction]?
KC: Well, we didn't even know about it. And when the mason was in that elevator shaft, 2007, it was his birthday, and he was working up there, and it happened to be January 21st.
HD: No way.
KC: It was incredible. It was the biggest coincidence you could ever dream of. But it was his birthday, it was January 21st, and the monument said January 21st, 1917. It was 90 years to the day after that we found this thing.
HD: Holy crap.
KC: So we cut it out, we took it, and now we're going to put it back in one of the walls, like in the entry vestibule. So everybody will see it.
HD: Well, that's cool. I was going to ask you about the painting on the side of the building, that you also have preserved.
KC: Right, right. That was original to the building. You can see it from Woodward, so that was their main form of advertising. We had a local artist, a guy from the College of Creative Studies, ...
HD: ... this was Jeff Von ... ?
KC: ... Von Buskirk. Yep. We had him come out and just re-do it. He freshened up the paint. And he did a really wonderful job. It's exactly as it was.
HD: And that's done, now, right?
KC: It's done, yeah.
HD: I forget which online publication it was, they described how he was going to be working on it and his work schedule, and I went, Oh, in November, I can go watch him, but then ...
KC: ... yeah, that was this past November. A couple of other interesting things that we found in this building, we found a Stroh's six-pack of the old aluminum cans with the pull tabs. And each can was perfectly preserved. The guy drank them all and then shoved them back in the box, but it was from 1950 or something. ... ... The building has accumulated 90 years worth of character.
HD: So the six-pack, is that going to make it into the vestibule?
KC: Unfortunately, our superintendent had a friend who collected old beer cans and he gave it to him as a gift. It's just one of the things that draws people to the building--the character of this building. It's just seen a lot. It was the host of the 1918 Auto Show.
HD: Just that building?
KC: The building, the very same building, was the host of the 1918 Auto Show.
HD: It's come a long way, the Auto Show.
KC: It has. It started just before 1900, and it was usually in much bigger locations. But 1918 was during the First World War, and they were using some of the bigger places to stage troops, or do something else, so they kind of spur of the moment had to find a new location, and our building had just been built. We actually found pictures of the cars in the building recently. So that was really neat. Just a lot of history associated with the building. The neighborhood is incredible.
HD: Right across the street from Avalon Bakery? Or is it next door?
KC: Actually, right next door. And Avalon is a fantastic place. They were pioneers in the neighborhood about 10 years ago. They do a lot of organic stuff, they're very active in the community. And they make fantastic bread. They distribute it all over the place. There's places around here that sell Avalon bread.
HD: Which I think is interesting, because Ann Arbor is at least on the fringes of their market area, yet Zingerman's sold them some old ovens they were getting rid of at a bargain price.
KC: That's right, yeah.
HD: So there's an Ann Arbor connection to the Avalon bakery as well. Do they sell anything besides bread? I mean, could you get donut there?
KC: Yeah, they sell scones, pastries, ...
HD: ... donuts?
KC: Not really donuts. They have cookies. But I don't think they fry anything. They're a big neighborhood draw. And there's another Italian restaurant that's been there a hundred years called Mario's, which is right there. There is a place called the Traffic Jam, a Wayne State institution. And then there's a little record store, and a new small store just opened up. There's a ton of stuff going on in the neighborhood. And it's just exciting to be down there every day and see stuff going on.
HD: So you're down on the building site every day?
KC: Well, I live across the street from the building.
HD: Do you really!
HD: So you're not just sort of driving in from Plymouth or Ann Arbor, you're actually ...
KC: ... no! It's my neighborhood. It's really interesting to me, this project, because I've been involved in every aspect of it, from the acquisition, and now we're getting into construction, and then sales. And then eventually, I will buy a unit and move in there.
HD: Why just 'eventually'? It seems like now would be the opportune moment to get first dibs on the very best possible space!
KC: And I've already done that.
HD: Well, good!
KC: Yeah, I've scoped it out, reserved my unit, and I hope to move in about December.
HD: So do you have one of the ones of the ones on the bottom floor with the private gardens?
KC: I do not. I opted for a top floor. Which also has a private balcony area. It's about 400 square feet, the patio area on the roof. So roughly the size of [your living room]. It's huge. And that overlooks the whole neighborhood.
HD: So the 'gardens' that are referenced, what will they be like? Is it a place where you could actually grow vegetables?
KC: You can.
HD: There'll be light?
KC: On the first floor, between the entry door and the sidewalk, there's going to be a fenced-in grassy area for each unit. And so those are appealing to people with pets and just want to let them out. But yeah, you can absolutely do a garden.
HD: So it's actually natural light, it's not just ...
KC: ... yeah, direct sunlight. It's actually outdoors. And then each unit will have a balcony.
HD: And the entrance to the ground floor units, they each will have their own entrance off the street?
KC: They will.
HD: So you won't have to go into a lobby.
KC: Right. And something we've actually considered, based on comments by a lot of people, is allowing live/work spaces.
HD: I noticed that was mentioned, and it says live/work opportunities, and I thought, Hmm, I guess you could get a job around there and live there, but that doesn't seem like something you could market. It's like, No kiddin, man! So there's something more to it, it means something specific?
KC: Right. What that is referring to is the ability to run a business out of the same space that you live in. So we've talked to a CPA, who might want to have a desk in the front of the unit, and then live in the back. And those provide good opportunities for that, because there's a lot of foot traffic, it's on a well-known street, you can just walk right in.
HD: So is that a question of zoning, or?
KC: It is. You would have to probably get a zoning variance, say, if you wanted to do that in a residential neighborhood here in Ann Arbor. But we are in a general business zoned district, so that allows residential and businesses to intermingle. And that's one of the nice things--that there's bars, restaurants, and little stores, 10 feet away from where you live. I think that a lot of people are really coming back to that way of living, and that's something that's important to them. They can ride their bike, they can walk, they don't have to get in a car every time they want to go get some milk.
HD: So Midtown Detroit. Before I was doing background preparation to talk to you, I had no idea it existed. And now I come to learn it's the hippest, happening-est place you could be in Detroit. And we all need to move there.
KC: Yeah! And I encourage that. You should! I will give anybody who wants a tour of Midtown anytime. Midtown, it's been around for a while, but basically it's an area just north of downtown, bounded by four freeways. It's got the most institutions in the city--it's got Wayne State University, the Detroit Medical Center, the DIA [Detroit Institute of Art]. So it's got a really good population base. And then the College of Creative Studies, they call it the Cultural Center. But it's just kind of recently gotten this name, Midtown. Part of Midtown was commonly referred to as the Cass Corridor. And Cass Corridor was notoriously one of the worst, if not the worst area of the city in terms of drugs and prostitution. And it was very desolate and it was just skidrow. We are now actually on Cass. There is still that element, definitely.
HD: So once you get the Willys Overland Loft project done--so I'd guess like two years from now you'll have all that behind you--what's next on your plate?
KC: Yeah. Well, we're always actively looking for new opportunities down there. I'm constantly on the lookout for new projects, new buildings.
HD: Exclusively in the Midtown Detroit area?
KC: No. I spend a lot of time in Detroit, so I'm always looking in Detroit. But DeMattia Group, they've always been an industrial developer and design-build. So they will find a client--and typically over the past 30 years, it's been a lot of automotive--we find a client, and then we sit down with them and ask them what type of building they want, design it for them, and build it for them. So in the 30-year history, that's 90 percent of our projects. Now, we're branching out, and this is our first residential project. But the feeling is that we've learned so much doing it, that it'd be a shame to waste all that knowledge and not do something again. And there's certainly enough opportunities down there, in terms of vacant buildings.
HD: I was in downtown Detroit recently--and I don't know the area at all, I was going to see a baseball game, and whenever I see a baseball game in Detroit, it's rare, maybe once or twice a year, but somebody else drives because I just don't know--but someone pointed out, I think it was the Pick-Fort Shelby Hotel, which apparently somebody has decided they're actually going to tackle that? That's vacant now, right, do you know?
KC: Right. That's been vacant for about 30 years. And somebody came through, and it's going to be a hotel again, and residences. But it's a great building. It's interesting, because it's right near Joe Louis, so every time we'd go to the hockey games, I remember as a kid looking up and seeing this scary-looking vacant building ...
HD: ... I was going to say, it must have been already vacant at that point when you were a kid.
KC: Right. And now they call them 'ghetto palms', they're trees that are growing out the roof where moisture has collected and stuff. But it's a great-looking building, great architecture. And thankfully somebody has decided to purchase it and renovate it ... ...
HD: ... but that building, it seems to me, as a potential project to sink your teeth into, isn't that pretty much on an island? In other words that'll be the one building in that area, whereas Midtown has managed to gather a certain amount of momentum as a place. But at some point Midtown was also in the same situation. Is it being overly generous to say that this guy Robert Slattery has essentially, been the guy who should get credit for making that happen?
KC: Well, Bob did an incredible thing 20 years ago by purchasing a building that was worth nothing, and there was nothing else around it.
HD: But I gather the bank made him buy a bunch of other buildings in order to give him the loan on the first building?
HD: So maybe it's the bank that should get credit.
KC: There's risk born by every single party in something like that. And there's certainly risk for the Pick-Fort Shelby, but you get in early and then you can reap the most reward. I guess these people are betting on the urban core becoming more and more attractive to more and more people and doing well. But yeah, it is somewhat isolated over there, but they're doing a lot of work and making a lot of progress in creating these linkages--from pocket to pocket to pocket. So they've got the Riverwalk, which now connects Joe Louis to the Belle Isle Bridge. It's a 3-mile stretch along the river, which was formerly all industry--they had these big cement silos along the river--and you couldn't walk a hundred yards along this beautiful river and an international coastline. But now they've purchased all the land, and they've made this fantastic Riverwalk, connecting the two. So you can walk from Joe Louis--and the Pick-Fort Shelby is not very far from there--you can walk from there to downtown in a safe, patrolled, lit, nice environment. And so they've got these linkages built up and then more and more stuff sprouts up around there. And they're working on Woodward and connecting downtown to Midtown. So right now it goes kind of a T-- Woodward and along the river. And it will hopefully spread from there.
HD: So I assume there's a bus that runs from Midtown straight downtown?
KC: There is. There is a bus. But there's a lot of problems with the bus. And one of the big criticisms of metro Detroit is that it's terrible for mass transit. And they talk about Detroit's marriage to the automobile. So the bus system has a lot of problems. It's rarely on time. You don't know if it's going to show up.
HD: You'd think that in a city the size of Detroit, the busses would run often enough so that there wouldn't really be a sense of, Is the bus going to be on time? That every ten minutes or so there's going to be a bus. That's my one frustration with Ann Arbor's bus system--they do run on time--it's just that the maximum service on any route, I think, is once every half hour. And most of it is once an hour. So if you miss it, then boy, you're screwed. And really you're faster to walk as opposed to wait for the next bus. But if you're not planning to walk two miles, then you're not going to maybe be in a mood to take that option. Hmm.
KC: You know I see more and more people--and this is one of the things I love about being down there every day--two years ago when I was down there, there was a lot less pedestrian traffic than there is now. And at least in the summer, I have just seen tons and tons of people on bikes, biking everywhere, so that's a pretty nice thing to see, because I doubt you would have seen that ten years ago.
HD: So how long have you been with the DeMattia Group?
KC: About three years, just shy of three years.
HD: And you've already been promoted to 'Developer Manager' or 'Development Manager'?
KC: Development Manager.
HD: That means the Willys Overland project is yours.
KC: Yep, yeah.
HD: So is it your job to make sure that all the units get sold, or is that somebody else's job?
KC: Nope, that's my job! I mean, that is my job now. And my job has been different things depending on the stages of the project. But for a while now my job has been pretty focussed on marketing and selling these units.
HD: So one of the things that seems to be a marketing point is the access to the roof--that it's not just the folks who have units on the roof who have access. So it'll be sort of a community area?
KC: Yeah, and it's going to be outdoor. But it will just allow residents who live in the building access to the roof, so they can go up there, and enjoy that view.
HD: So are there going to be amenities up there, like picnic tables ...
KC: ... no, it's just going to be open space ...
HD: ... playground equipment of any kind? Slides? Teeter totters?
KC: [laugh] If the association wants to put it up there! I'm sure it'll develop just based on the people who live there. We went up there to watch the Detroit fireworks and that was just fantastic. We had a great view. And all the workers came up there.
HD: So how much square footage of roof area is there going to be for community access?
KC: It'll probably be 7 or 800 square feet. It's a pretty big space. You could get twenty people up there.
HD: So if somebody wanted to do some raised box gardening, it might be conceivable? Although if you've got a balcony, maybe you'd just want to keep it on your balcony instead.
KC: Right, right. That is another interesting thing. In Detroit, there's so many vacant land parcels, that these community gardens are popping up all over the place.
HD: Are they really? Sort of on an unofficial basis, or?
KC: Yeah, there is a group--I think they're called the Greening of Detroit, or something--and the Detroit Agriculture Network. They've taken these parcels of land that are vacant--in a lot of places in the city there are a lot of parcels strung together, so there are big parcels within these urban areas, and a lot of times they're in poor neighborhoods, so they've started up this garden. It does one thing which is use the land, but it also makes it look nicer. And then the residents of the area help work on it, and then they're able to reap the ...
HD: ... the harvest. Huh.
KC: Yeah. So it's taken on life and it's been a really popular thing to do up there. So I'm sure many of our buyers are going to be interested in that.
HD: So later today we've got the Manchester Chicken Broil coming up. Is that something you've ever attended or are even aware of?
KC: No! But I love chicken broils.
HD: So you've never heard of the Manchester Chicken Broil?
KC: No, I haven't.
HD: It's kind of interesting that it kind of flies under the radar as far as Ann Arbor is concerned. I'd never been until somebody mentioned it on the teeter totter, a guy who bought a used motorcycle there, and so I figured it's gotta be worth checking out. They broil 15,000 chickens.
HD: It's a gigantic community fundraising event. They have a park called the Chicken Broil Park.
KC: That sounds awesome.
HD: Apparently Chicken Broil Park is there for the sole purpose of having this Chicken Broil once a year. I'm hoping to head down there later on today. It's from 4[pm] til 8[pm], I think.
HD: So it might be too late for you to plan today, if you have to head back to Detroit ...
KC: ... yeah, I do ...
HD: ... but for next year, it's always the third Thursday of July, whenever that is.
KC: We deep fried a turkey last year. That was a lot of fun.
HD: What, for Thanksgiving?
KC: For a barbecue.
HD: In the middle of the summer??!
KC: It was hot! [laugh]
HD: That just sounds sticky.
KC: Yeah. But, no, I love those kind of outdoor events and summer fun stuff. There's Eastern Market in Detroit, and they always have some guy out barbecuing and it's fun to go down there. On Saturday, they're having this thing called the 4th Street Fair, which is kind of an under-the-radar event, but they have it on this really cool street in Detroit and they have all these vendors. It's something very few people know about, but they've been having it for 20 years, so I think I'll go check that out for the first time on Saturday.
HD: Sounds like a good way to spend a Saturday. I saw in some listing of Art Fair events where they're going to have booth where there's going to be Survivor tryouts? You're familiar with the TV Show Survivor?
KC: Mmm Hmm.
HD: Is that something you'd ever consider doing, trying out for Survivor?
KC: You know, it's funny you mentioned that, because I was talking to my girlfriend the other day, and we thought that a good idea for Survivor, would be to have a group walk from Heart Plaza in Detroit, up Woodward to Pontiac, at night. You know, forget the desert and an island ...
HD: ... so it'd be Survivor, Urban-style?
KC: Yeah, yep. So I dunno.
HD: In terms of reality TV shows, though, I suppose something like The Apprentice would be more up your alley?
KC: Yeah, yeah. I enjoyed that show. I don't have a TV now, so whenever I could see. But I'm interested in that. I'm a developer, and Donald Trump is a developer--I'm not trying to compare us!--but I'm interested in that kind of stuff, and what he does, and just seeing some of those people is a trip. How they interact and how they deal with each other.
HD: So the negotiation back and forth?
HD: So is there anything you could point to in connection with the Willys Overland Lofts project that you'd describe as a really tough negotiation you had to do, or a really tough challenge you met, or a conflict you had to resolve--I have no idea who there might be conflicts with, given how little I know about this sector.
KC: Absolutely. They have been countless. But the biggest one is dealing with the Public Lighting Department of the City of Detroit. Their infrastructure is a hundred years old, and it's decaying, and it's all rigged up, and they're not funded, they have budget problems all over the place. It's impossible to get anybody to come out and do an inspection or to come out when they say they're going to come out, or to review plans in a timely manner. So it's held up our schedule, our budget, in order to get permanent power to the building--which we need for occupancy. We need it for the elevators, the lights, all this kind of stuff, and it's been a big deal. You go to their office and there's paper strewn everywhere, it's the most disorganized place you could ever see. The people, to their credit, are working hard, but they have very little support, and very little money and they're just dealing with these constant problems ...
HD: ... more putting out fires ...
KC: ... yeah, exactly. So, we've been able to work through it, but it's been very time-consuming and difficult.
HD: Seems to me that you'd have somewhat of an advantage living across the street from the building. So that for inspections and whatnot, you could essentially say, Listen, whatever time ...
KC: ... oh, and we say that ...
HD: ... I'll just be hanging out at my place ...
KC: ... call my cell phone! ...
HD: ... and I can be there.
KC: And they will not commit to any time. So that's been one issue. And then just dealing with a big bureaucracy like the City of Detroit. In order to get something done, you have to go down there and talk to somebody in person. If you try to get somebody over the phone, they put you through the run-around, they transfer you a hundred times, and then the phone just goes dead. But it's been effective, because you develop relationships with people, and once you've done that, you can get things done. That's why we want to do more projects, because we think we can refine the process ...
HD: ... you've accumulated a certain amount of knowledge about how to work in that environment, how to work with specific people. I'd think it'd get easier as time goes on, so the people from the Public Lighting, if they know, Oh, it's Kyle, I know who he is, what his deal is, I know I can at least rely on him to show up on time if I do schedule something. So it should get easier and easier. But what do I know? Is there coursework that you'd point to that you did at the University of Wisconsin that you'd say, That's the kind of courses that really prepared me for this kind of work?
KC: Well, you know, I studied finance and Spanish. My finance background--one of the reasons I chose that as a major was because I felt like it would be a good background for anything I did, any type of job. So it wasn't that I wanted to be stockbroker or a financial analyst, which I couldn't do--I mean I just wouldn't want to do. But it has been very beneficial in this business, because you're working with these very detailed pro formas to figure out whether this project will make you any money or not.
HD: Very detailed what?
KC: It's called a 'pro forma'. And it basically lines up--puts on paper--your hard construction costs, your land acquisition costs, your soft costs like legal fees and stuff, and then it's kind of like a timeline. It says you're putting up all this money up front and then you're going to make a hundred thousand here at this date, and a hundred thousand here at this date, and keep making that on and on, and it has a bottom line that says, if you put this money in, sell your units off over three years, then you'll have this profit at this date.
HD: So is there like a document template that's used for that? I mean, you don't have to create these from scratch?
KC: Right, right. And really I can read them and that kind of stuff, but the guy that really does that is our Chief Operating Officer, who's an accountant, and has spent his career doing this.
HD: Is he running like Microsoft Word to generate these, or what?
KC: He does it on Excel. It's all spreadsheets and formulas.
HD: Listen, you have anything else on your mind that you want to get on the official teeter totter record before we dismount?
KC: Just, I would say that 80 percent of my friends that I grew up with don't live here anymore.
HD: When you say 'here' you mean ... ?
KC: In Michigan.
HD: Okay, because I was going to say, you don't really live here anymore, either.
KC: Right, right.
HD: So by 'here', you mean like southeast Michigan.
KC: Right. And I would say that the vast majority of them are in one of three places: Chicago, New York, or out west. And they flock to these big cities, because there are jobs there, and there's a lot of action, and they're fun places to live and work. But those places are kind of already established--and that's a good thing. With Detroit, and southeastern Michigan, but Detroit specifically, there is so much opportunity for a person who just graduated college. I can join a yacht club for very cheap, which I could not do in Chicago.
HD: Are you in a yacht club??
KC: Yes, the Detroit Yacht Club. Which is one of the oldest and nicest yacht clubs in the nation. And the initiation fee is like a hundred dollars.
HD: So that's why you had to get the boat!
KC: So I had to get a boat! I can have a boat. And I can put it on the Detroit River and keep it at the Yacht Club. I couldn't do that if I was in Chicago. There's no way.
HD: So psychologically, for you, how do you think of Detroit and its relationship to Ann Arbor? When my wife and I were trying to decide if we wanted to actually move to Ann Arbor or not, one of the plusses that we actually wrote down was its proximity to Detroit, a big city, we can take advantage of whatever it is that Detroit has to offer. And then we moved to Ann Arbor, and I dunno three or four years later, we woke up and realized, Gosh, we haven't been to Detroit once, why is that? And I think there's not an orientation towards Detroit as a part of our general mental horizon here in Ann Arbor. It's already over the horizon, as far as most of Ann Arbor is concerned.
KC: That's very true. Growing up here, we rarely went to the city. That's why it's such an adventure for me every day is seeing what's in that city! But yeah, Ann Arbor is kind of isolated from Detroit, and other cities in metro Detroit, Livonia and Warren. You know, it is southeastern Michigan, but it's isolated.
HD: I mean, if you look at it on the map, though, it's not.
KC: Oh no, not at all. It's a straight shot down I-94, it takes about 40 minutes. It's no problem getting there. But people just go in there for their baseball games and come right back.
HD: In fact I think that's the only reason I've been to Detroit in the last ten years. I'm trying to think of some other reason. I think it's been baseball games and that's it.
KC: But let me tell you one of my favorite things to do in the summer, and it gets back to the opportunity Detroit gives you. Detroit has one of the best public spaces definitely in this state, and that is Belle Isle. Belle Isle is gorgeous. It has these great architectural fountains, it has these old casinos. It was designed by Frederick Law Olmsted, who designed Central Park. And he's got these little ponds and rivers going through it, and mature trees. You can see Canada. So one of my favorite things to do is to go down there--I bought a lawn chair--and either read a book or fish. And you can just sit down there and it's so peaceful ...
HD: ... so you fish from the bank?
KC: Yeah. And nobody knows about it. I mean, people in Detroit know about it.
HD: There used to be one of the auto racing series ...
KC: ... yeah, the Grand Prix. And they're bringing that back, this year.
HD: Oh really! When's that gonna be?
HD: Probably not the time you want to try and catch a fish.
KC: Right. Well, they just had the hydroplane races there, too.
HD: You know it's odd, I forget which website it is, maybe Metromode, or ModelD, their banner photo is the boat that's flipping ...
KC: ... the hydroplane. That happened on Saturday. It flipped!
HD: Yeah, I dunno, that seems like the wrong kind of image to have as the banner art, kind of grim ...
KC: ... he does a different photo every week. So I guess it was timely.
HD: What's the biggest fish you ever caught?
KC: Probably about a foot. 12 inches.
HD: What kind?
KC: It was a bass.
HD: Just wanted to get that on the record. Listen, thanks for coming over and riding!
KC: Hey, thanks for having me! This was great.