There's no doubt that Detroit is bustling with young creatives with the romance but not the finance to make their dreams come true. So we've got Kresge grants and Gilbert bankrolls, but crowdfunding is one of those things that we still have a tricky time with. Case in point.
Here's a bro who wants to turn the $2.8 million Col. Frank J. Hecker House in midtown Detroit, a 21,000-square-foot railroad baron's mansion, into a "coworking heaven." (Um, that's not where coworkers go when they die?) And all he needs is three million of your hard-earned dollars to do it.
Yeah...no. I mean, don't get me wrong. I'm fully supportive of crowdfunds when there's a clear goal and purpose. And despite the fact that I can be snarky and suspicious sometimes of my fellow young creatives' intents in Detroit, I'm all for reusing older spaces. But here's why I can't get behind this.
1. I have no idea what you plan to do since you're kind of vague about it.
Here's the description of what will be done with the Hecker House from the crowdfund page:
Our goal is to convert the Hecker-Smiley Mansion into a coworking space for students, technologists, and makers who want to change our world.
Oh, how very Eric Clapton and Babyface of you. But here's what you haven't addressed. First, what exactly is a "technologist"? Is that more of that PR buzzslang that's an in-term between the one-percent of hipsterpreneurs that the rest of us are just supposed to agree with because it sounds good?
Second, how exactly do students fit into this equation? Students study, right? There are a dozen or so places around Hecker House where students can study. What will make this place different?
Third, and here's the biggie, you want me to fund $3 million so you can purchase this place for "makers," but how about those long-term costs? Changing the world isn't going to be a satisfactory payment for DTE Energy when they send that man in the unmarked minivan to cut that power off, son! And with a space as big as Hecker — again, this is 21,000 square feet — I'm curious about how much rent will be charged for "makers" to have space to begin with to meet those costs. We're already seeing the effects of Midtown rents skyrocketing with the Good Girls Go To Paris flap.
2. You don't have matching funds, at least none that are listed.
So here's the thing about crowdsourcing: I'm generally a willing participant if the person looking to meet their goal has some money up front. It's like, OK, I'm behind you in line at the grocery store, your bill is $20 and you have like $19.59, so I'll front you the 41 cents so you can go about your day.
You want to raise $3 million— three million dollars! — with no other funds in place. You're asking for a three-million-dollar handout, basically. I could see maybe a grant from a private entity — but again, those are given if that person has some cash up front.
3. You don't appear to have the experience to manage a "coworking heaven" or the know-how of maintaining a 21,000-square-foot mansion.
Where's your resume? Where's some proof that you know how to manage tenants — er, "coworkers"— in a sustained environment? But better yet, how do I know that this icon of Detroit is going to fall into the right hands? I have trouble trying to fix holes in my little 1,800-square-foot colonial on the westside. My grandparents regularly shell out thousands to fix even the smallest things in their bigger home in the Villages. When shit hits the fan, or if shit backs up in the septic tank, what are you going to do to fix it?
4. Why aren't you aiming lower?
Seriously, Detroit has an abundance of commercial spaces just waiting to be scooped up that don't cost $3 million, and their neighbors would not only be happy to have you around, but they might be more willing to lend you a financial hand.
5. You don't win friends with salad.
Bro, your pic is you surrounded by what looks to be very expensive salads. That's going to make me want to open my wallet? Show me a picture of you... coworking? Making? "Technologist-ing"? Not eating kale greens with gruyere or whatever, and buying it with the money you want from us.