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A Day With Detroit Bruce: 'The Opportunity In This City Is Endless'

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A Day With Detroit Bruce: 'The Opportunity In This City Is Endless'

A decade removed from the financial crisis, the Motor City is reclaiming its position as one of America's urban centers.

Among Detroit's class of business-savvy entrepreneurs and innovators is Bruce Schwartz, former CEO of In-House Realty and current "Ambassador of Detroit" for the Rock Family of Companies.

Bruce is known for leading insightful tours of downtown Detroit and greeting the icons and celebrities that venture into the city for various business endeavors — Warren Buffett, Ice Cube and Kanye West, to name a few.

Because of his years of commitment to the city, many people around town know him as "Detroit Bruce."

"I love the people and I love getting to know people from all over the world. I have a lot of different and unique people come into my world every day and I don't think a lot of people have the ability to say that," Bruce told Benzinga.

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Courtesy photo.

Serving as the ambassador of a city in the process of redevelopment is no minor mission, and it's Bruce's job to highlight Detroit's progress, its plans for expansion and the projects that are underway.

"At one point we [Detroit] were one of the most popular cities behind New York, and Detroit was the place to be. So we've had our hard times, but we're well beyond that and we are continuing to grow," Bruce said.

On a recent tour he gave of the downtown district, he was dressed in his signature attire of a fedora and designer glasses. He embraced each tourist with nothing but lively smiles and warm welcomes.

The first stop on this particular tour was the 10th floor of One Campus Martius, home to Quicken Loans headquarters, Benzinga and other companies within the Rock Family of Companies.

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Replica of the Cleveland Cavaliers court on the 10th floor of One Campus Martius overlooking downtown Detroit.

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The next stop on the tour was Bedrock Headquarters, one block south of One Campus Martius. This location exemplifies why Detroit is often referred to as America's "Comeback City." After being abandoned for 47 years, the building is now home to a buzzing real estate development team that operates the company that stands as the largest real estate partner in downtown Detroit.

On top of being stocked with dozens of hungry employees, Bedrock HQ has been remodeled to more closely resemble the tastes and styles of the building's inhabitants.

Some of the more unique features include a Shinola clock situated atop of a wood grain staircase; a fourth-floor lounging area with espresso machines and sleek sofas; and above all, a secret speakeasy bar. Disguised as a phone booth, the infamous wet bar is accessible only to those who possess the proper scanner badge.

Of course, for those that get on Detroit Bruce's good side, gaining access to the hidden bar is no problem at all, and is undoubtedly a must-see for anyone participating in a tour.

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The Secret Wetbar

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After showing off the Bedrock headquarters, Bruce led the tour group to a variety of highlights for visiting tourists, including several Detroit restaurants and clothing stores.

A common theme among many of the featured retail stores and eateries: the use of Detroit as the centerpiece of branding appeal and marketing material.

"Most of those shops are owned by Detroit entrepreneurs," he said.

In Capitol Park, the clothing shop Détroit Is The New Black includes a collection of fashion items stamped with various iterations of the prideful catchphrase DITNB. It's a brand that demonstrates the city's undying spirit, resilient sense of community and distinctive culture.

Before bringing the two-hour long tour to an end, Bruce escorted the group through the world's first Shinola Hotel on Woodward Avenue. The luxurious hotel had its grand opening in January, with a carefully crafted interior design and extravagant common spaces.

A trademark of the hotel is the San Morello restaurant, positioned by the lobby entrance.

Upon ushering the group through San Morello, Bruce said the restaurant was completely booked with reservations for the next month-and-a-half.

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Interior of the Shinola Hotel.

The Detroit Bruce tour ended at the Belt.

The Belt is an alleyway situated next to the Z-Lot, a 10-story parking garage. On any given evening, revelers can be spotted bar-hopping in the energy-packed back alley.

Some of the spots within The Belt include Standby, The Skip, and the fan favorite Deluxx Fluxx, a subterranean bar and music venue with a glowing neon aesthetic.

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Interior of the Deluxx Fluxx

A Bruce tour should be at the top of the "things to do in Detroit" list for outsiders wandering into the city.

Not only will Detroit Bruce receive you with the utmost gratitude and keep you entertained for a few hours, but speaking from experience, just one tour will leave you privy to some of the city's most intriguing spots.

"The opportunity in this city is endless. We have access to so many resources and the barrier of entry is easy compared to other cities because you are not having to compete with as many people. We are a creative tech hub and you have the ability to make an impact here," Bruce told Benzinga.

Posted-In: Bedrock Detroit Bruce Schwartz Dan Gilbert DetroitMovers & Shakers Travel Interview General Best of Benzinga

 

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