Bill Milliken founded Milliken Realty, an award-winning real estate business, in 1996. He is an active business community participant and supporter, and has long been recognized for his leadership. Paul Krutko recently got the chance to speak with Bill about Michigan’s turnaround from the recession and its current real estate market.
Paul: Bill, you have an interesting background, having been in community affairs for a long time. Professionally, you’ve been working in commercial real estate since 1987 and you’re now the president of your own company. Can you talk a little bit about your career path and how you came to be where you are today?
Bill: Well, I’m a Michigan kid. I was born in Northern Michigan. Although I traveled around the country: I worked for the oil and gas business in Denver, Colorado, I worked for a couple of agencies in Washington D.C., U.S. Department of Justice and NASA, which were both very exciting.
One of the interesting aspects about coming back to Ann Arbor was living in a community, being involved in the community, having a chance to join non-profit boards and give back. That fed the business, sitting next to people at the board table who had a real estate issue that they wanted to talk to you about after the meeting, gave me a level of involvement that was new, and it really was the basis for my small commercial real estate business to grow. It was a boutique business because it didn’t cater exclusively to industrial or to office, but it was across the board in land and multifamily and whatever commercial real estate aspect there was. That’s what I would get called to do by virtue of some of the relationships that I developed in the community.
Paul: So, could you talk a little bit about what’s going on in the real estate area? We’ve had a very volatile time. The real estate climate has really evolved in the last five years.
Bill: I’ve got a really good vantage point of things that are going on, also by virtue of the fact that I am the president-elect of the Michigan Association of Realtors (MAR), so I get to see on a state-wide basis of realtors and from the MAR board room some of the issues that we are facing in real estate. We have record high vacancy rates in commercial, in office, in Ann Arbor and around the state. The vacancy rates are falling. Ann Arbor’s vacancy rate is somewhere in the neighborhood of 12 or 13%, and we expect to see it fall a little bit again this year.
As chair of the Washtenaw Economic Development Council, Bill was heavily involved, along with Mary Sue Coleman and Governor Snyder, in the creation of Ann Arbor SPARK. To learn more about how SPARK was founded, and where Milliken sees the Ann Arbor region headed, take a listen to the full conversation. The podcast is available at this link.