Quicken Loans bringing first Canadian office to downtown Windsor

Detroit-based Quicken Loans is opening an office in downtown Windsor out of the Old Fish Market building on Chatham Street.

100 employees to work out of restored Old Fish Market Building

Quicken Loans is leasing 9,000 sq. ft. of office space for up to 150 tech workers in the Old Fish Market building on Chatham Street in downtown Windsor. (Quicken Loans)

Quicken Loans, the Detroit-based mortgage company owned by billionaire Dan Gilbert, is opening an office in downtown Windsor for up to 100 tech workers.

It will be located in the restored Old Fish Market building on Chatham Street, and is expected to open in 2019.

Although Quicken Loans is known as a large mortgage lender in the U.S., the company will be using its Windsor offices as a base for technology recruiting. The company won't be offering mortages in Canada with this move, but its CEO isn't ruling that out in the future.

The two-story, 9,000 sq. ft. building at the corner of Chatham and Ferry Streets, will have capacity for up to 150 employees in the sectors of software, engineering and technology.

"They are well-paid positions that already in Quicken Loans personnel," said Brian Schwab, co-owner of Cypher Systems.

The former Fish Market and Loop building has undergone extensive renovations and will soon house one of the largest home mortgage lenders in the United States. (Sanjay Maru/CBC)

Quicken Loans CEO Jay Farner said it's important to be located in an urban environment and one that will "inspire" his workers.

"That building I think represented that and was in keeping with some of our buildings here in Detroit and the things that we're doing," said Farner. "Our design folks went over there and that building really stuck out."

In November 2017, Anthony and Dino Maggio, owners of Mid South Land Developments, purchased the building for $1.6 million to give it extensive renovations — "new windows, new roof, new HVAC."

"If we hadn't started the process, it would've been very difficult to bring in somebody of this calibre," said Dino.

For Schwab, capturing the eye of Quicken Loans was a surprise, adding he was expecting to house "four, five or six" tenants taking 1,000 to 2,000 sq. ft. each.

"It was a nice surprise that we could get one tenant to take the entire floor and hopefully take the entire building," he said.

As for Windsor Mayor Drew Dilkens, he pointed to the Amazon bid as a key to securing the deal with Quicken Loans. He said a number of "value propositions" were put forward which captured Quicken Loans' attention.

"After we were notified that we didn't make the shortlist of 20, we said, 'We're not going to shed a tear over this. We're going to continue to work because we believe the value proposition is so strong and something good will come from the work that was done. Today, something good is happening as a result of the Amazon work that was done," said Dilkens.

From L to R, Brian Schwab, Anthony Maggio, Windsor Mayor Drew Dilkens, Dino Maggio and Lisa Schwab. (Sanjay Maru/CBC)

Farner said a lot was learned about "Ontario's deep technology talent pool over the past couple of years" as the international border was pitched as a location to various companies.

"With our headquarters located in downtown Detroit, we have a tremendous opportunity to tap into the rich technology pipeline both stateside and in Canada," said Farner.

The city has assigned 75 parking spots to employees at two parking garages —​ one at Pitt Street East and Goyeau Street and another at Park Street West and Pelissier Street.

"Some folks criticize that they don't see a lot of cars there. Just wait. By March 1st, you're going to see those garages full," said Dilkens.

In 2010, Quicken Loans moved its headquarters to downtown Detroit. Today, more than 17,000 workers employed by Quicken or other Gilbert-affiliated companies work in that city's core.