He also has promised to turn downtown into a walkable urban center with public plazas and a skyscraper — Hudson Tower — that would be a "landmark destination."
To do so, however, he was able to persuade Detroit and state officials to give his development companies free land and hundreds of millions of dollars in tax incentives, according to a Free Press investigation. And the pandemic has been challenging to downtown business owners.
In 2020, about nine months after his stroke, Gilbert rolled up in a wheelchair on a ballroom stage at MGM Grand Detroit to receive a lifetime achievement award during the Crain's Newsmakers of the Year luncheon, and he stood up to deliver a 20-minute speech.
He joked that "it’s been long enough where I’ve already had a baby."
In that address, he also reflected on the many changes in Detroit since 2007 and was joined by New York real estate developer Stephen Ross, who is partnering with him to build an "Innovation Center" for the University of Michigan at the downtown site of the failed Wayne County jail project.
Ross, for whom U-M's business school is named, said he would contribute $100 million toward the project.
In Thursday's interview, Gilbert talked about the night he had his stroke, saying that at first his vision blurred, and he happened to be with a friend who was an emergency room doctor and went to the hospital right away.
"I'm feeling good, I'm getting better," Gilbert said. "It's like an inch a day. It's like a marathon."
He said that the stroke has been more challenging mentally, because "you always ask yourself every day, 'Is this ever going to be over, and you hope it will be."
He also said that when you have a stroke it affects the whole family.
"America loves a comeback story, right?" Gilbert said.
Jacobson replied: "You already knew that with the Cavs, come on."
Jennifer Gilbert added that the lesson that they learned from the experience is that "the only thing that matters is your health and your loved ones. You can't control bad things from happening, but you control how you respond to them."©2021 www.freep.com. Visit at freep.com. Distributed by Tribune Content Agency, LLC.