Billionaire Dan Gilbert gives retailers free rent during coronavirus

How utility, phone, internet companies are helping


Detroit billionaire and Cleveland Cavaliers owner Dan Gilbert’s real estate firm, downtown Detroit’s biggest landlord, announced Monday that it will waive all rent, building expenses and parking fees during the months of April and May, and in some instances June, for its restaurant and retail tenants that are small businesses.

The gesture by Gilbert’s Bedrock is meant to help those businesses weather the coronavirus crisis and meet payroll.

“It is going to take the entire community to mitigate the effects of this pandemic on the region, and we are happy to do our part to help our portfolio’s most vulnerable businesses weather the storm,” Bedrock CEO Matt Cullen said. 

Restaurants and retailers with under $100 million in annual sales can qualify for two months of free rent and expenses. Smaller businesses with $80,000 or less in monthly sales can qualify for the full three months of free rent.

Detroit businessman Dan Gilbert was awarded Crain's Newsmaker of the Year award at the Grand Ballroom at the MGM Friday, Feb. 21, 2020.

Restaurants and non-grocery retailers across the state have been struggling since the COVID-19 crisis arrived in Michigan this month, and especially since a March 16 executive order by Gov. Gretchen Whitmer that closed all bars, theaters, gyms and casinos and limits restaurants to carry out-only service.

A woman works on mopping the floor in Maru Sushi in downtown Detroit on Tuesday, March 17, 2020 as the dining room remains closed due to COVID-19.

On Saturday, Whitmer extended the temporary closure through April 13 and added barber shops, hair and nail salons and other personal service shops to the list.

Cullen told the USA TODAY Network’s Detroit Free Press that Bedrock’s assistance program will amount to millions of dollars in foregone revenue and rent payments. But the businesses are facing hard economic times and could use the help. 


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