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Multifamily Operator in Detroit

Michael Wayne

Communication is the sister of leadership. Meet Michael, a real estate investor who believes in giving and getting proper communication can serve as a pedestal for more business deals in the field. Michael is an entrepreneur whose company, Detroit Riverside Capital, is responsible for investing in and developing mixed use and multifamily properties throughout the Metro Detroit area. His current project is the ‘The Jordan 3250’ in Auburn Hills, Michigan. It’s a 48 unit mixed property with 6600 square feet of retail space on the first floor. The project is currently under construction and expected to be completed in June of 2021. In this episode, Michael shares with us his business on the Detroit area, and also, specifically on the twists and turns of ground-up development investment life cycle and how much communication it takes in order to really put together a project of that magnitude. In addition, Michael also gives us a glimpse on his vision for Detroit in the future.

Important Points in This Episode

  • Michael gives a brief history of how he started in the real estate
  • The reasons why he likes Detroit, and why he considers it a strong suburbia
  • Investing in the suburbs vs. investing in the downtown area: pros and cons of investing in downtown area
  • Why Michael thinks Detroit market is interesting in an investor’s point of view
  • Michael talks about opportunities in ground-up development in Detroit rather than value add real estate
  • Major construction partners that Michael deals with, and who are the big ones in Detroit area
  • Michael talks about his current project, “The Jordan 3250” and how he found it
  • Financial aspects of the project and who manages the architectural designs
  • How the pandemic actually helped the company save on constructions costs for a couple of months, and the path that the project is going to take in the future
  • How they base their decision on projects, and the type of returns investors should look for in a ground-up development deal
  • Michael talks about why communication has been one of the most difficult things in their ground-up development project
  • Areas that had been difficult or quite challenging to manage: for example, the types of people in his team and the circumstances that surrounds it
  • How Michael manages the team to make things easier and help ease the burden of difficult tasks
  • Michael shares his insight on the benefits of development versus value add deals
  • Best part about being a real estate developer according to Michael
  • Michael talks about his ideal business partner, Alec Harris
  • Mistakes made and lessons learned



  • “I guess, for us, it really just depends on opportunity: If we’re able to find a good piece of land that can support the amount of density that we need, and has the construction cost that we need to make it work, then, we’d pursue that.”
  • “It ended up being a blessing in disguise, the whole COVID thing for us, because, you know, again, no interest, exposure, and it helped us on the cost side.”
  • “Communication, number one, that is the most difficult thing. Much different from a value add, your team is so much more complex in development.”
  • “The biggest thing I’ve learned, thus far in this business is bring all the, it’s a negative connotation but my Dad says it all the time, so it’s ringing in my head: bring all the liars in the room. No one can lie, if ever, and sit there and talk about it, you know.”
  • “But this is one of the challenges: getting the communication level that you need for these things to flourish.”
  • “Timeline management: everything takes longer. You wanna think you’re gonna be different, you wanna think you can do it faster, don’t. It’s really hard, I promise. It’s really hard, and it takes long, and a lot of times, it’s completely out of your control.”
  • “You get to this point where there is absolutely nothing that you can do about it, but, being as proactive as possible, forcing the conversation among the people to get things approved and moving along is the best that you can do.”
  • “You’re just the orchestra conductor, the circus director: you’re just bringing everyone together to make the decisions.”
  • “Building a building is like driving a car on the mountain.”
  • “We’re just passionate about it (building). We just like the idea of building something new and turning a vacant lot into a 4-storey building.”
  • “Be nimble and be agile in your real estate investing and try to play in both sides (development and value add), if you can. There’s definitely benefits to both.”