By Terry Parris Jr. – Model D
Robin Scovill is freezing. He’s not used to the cold. He’s from Los Angeles, where it is at least a 35 degrees warmer than in Detroit.
It’s early on a Saturday morning, and Scovill has assembled his “team” of Detroiters. On this particular day, he has a project manager, property manager, contractor, maintenance man, and Realtor on site. They are in a parking lot at Van Dyke and Parker in the West Village discussing a U-shaped 26-unit apartment building Scovill is looking to purchase. It’s two stories, running at 65 percent occupancy right now. Scovill calls it “Big Van Dyke.” The tenants’ heating bills are outrageous. The windows appear thin. Dormant air conditioners droop and sag from the brick. The second floor balcony dips. There’s been obvious neglect. “Big Van Dyke” isn’t pretty. It needs work.
“We’ll need to turn management around, bring up occupancy, and figure out how to keep the place heated,” he says, rubbing his own hands together for warmth. “We need to keep the families warm.” Heat seems like a no-brainer, right? But at “Big Van Dyke” it doesn’t seem to be the case. That’s where Scovill comes in. As he explains it, Paradise Valley, the Detroit investing company he started, focuses on the no-brainers.
“We’re not enticing suburbanites to move into lofts. That’s not what we’re about,” he says. That this is important for the city, but Scovill takes a different approach. Paradise Valley focuses on single-family houses. “We’re putting families in homes in Detroit, and we want to do more.”