Pontiac Real Estate
Pontiac is notably the first organized settlement of a town in 1818 within the interior of Michigan, with the exception of Dearborn that was in close proximity of Detroit. Named after Pontiac, a war chief of the Ottawa people, the city achieved its widest reputation for its General Motors automobile manufacturing plants of the 20th century, which were the basis of its economy and contributed to the wealth of the region. These included Fisher Body, Pontiac East Assembly (a.k.a. Truck & Coach/Bus) which manufactured GMC products, and the Pontiac Motor Division, which in the city's heyday was the primary automobile assembly plant where the famed Pontiac cars were produced. They were named after the city. The city of Pontiac also was home to Oakland Motor Car Company, which was acquired by General Motors in 1909.
Also of note is the Pontiac Silverdome, the stadium that hosted the Detroit Lions of the National Football League (NFL) from 1975 until 2002, when the team returned to downtown Detroit. Super Bowl XVI was played at the Silverdome in 1982.
Early expeditions into the land north of Detroit described the area as having "extreme sterility and barrenness". Developments and exploration were soon to prove that report false.
The first European-American settlers arrived in what is now the city of Pontiac in 1818. Two years later the fledgling settlement was designated as the county seat for Oakland County. The Pontiac Company, consisting of 15 members and chaired by Solomon Sibley of Detroit, comprised the first landowners in Pontiac. Sibley, along with Stephen Mack and Shubael Conant, Pontiac Company members, also formed the partnership Mack, Conant & Sibley to serve to develop a town. Solomon and his wife Sarah Sibley largely financed construction of the first buildings. While Solomon was the first chair of the Pontiac Company, for two years Sarah Sibley was the most active as the go-between with settlers at Pontiac. Solomon Sibley was constantly traveling as a Territorial Congressman and later a Territorial Supreme Court judge.
In the 1820s Elizabeth Denison, an unmarried, free Black woman, worked for the Sibleys. They helped her buy land in Pontiac in 1825. Stephen Mack, agent for the Pontiac Company, signed the deed at the request of the Sibleys, conveying 48.5 acres to Elizabeth Denison. She is believed to be the first Black woman to purchase land in the new territory of Michigan.
In 1837 Pontiac became a village, the same year Michigan gained statehood. The town had been named after the noted Ottawa Indian war chief who had his headquarters in the area decades before during the resistance to European-American encroachment. Founded on the Clinton River, Pontiac was Michigan's first inland settlement. Rivers were critical to settlements, as transportation ways in addition to providing water and, later, power.
The village was incorporated by the legislature as a city in 1861. From the beginning, Pontiac's central location served it well. It attracted professional people, including doctors and lawyers, and soon became a center of industry. Woolen and grist mills made use of the Clinton River as a power source.
Abundant natural resources led to the establishment of several carriage manufacturing companies, all of which were thriving at the turn of the century. At that time, the first self-propelled vehicles were introduced. Pontiac quickly became a capital of the new automotive industry. Throughout the 1920s and 30's, Pontiac had tremendous growth in its population and size as tens of thousands of prospective autoworkers moved here from the South to work in its GM auto assembly plants at Pontiac Assembly. African Americans came in the Great Migration, seeking work, education, and the chance to vote.
As the small "horseless carriage" manufacturers became consolidated under the mantle of the General Motors Corporation, Pontiac grew as the industry grew, suffering the same setback as other cities during the Great Depression years of the 1930s. The first postwar years were a time of prosperity but the city changed as suburbs were developed and people commuted by car to work. The more established residents moved out to buy newer housing being built in the suburbs, draining off business and resulting in vacancies downtown.
In order to prevent flooding, the Clinton River was confined in concrete in downtown Pontiac in 1963.
In late 1966, Pontiac-born real estate developer A. Alfred Taubman tried to build a large-scale shopping mall on vacant downtown land (where the Phoenix Center now stands). It was unsuccessful. Pontiac resident C. Don Davidson and his University of Detroit architectural class created a more comprehensive plan for development to benefit the city and the entire region around it. In 1969, the city of Pontiac adopted the Pontiac Plan as the official plan for rebuilding the vacant area of the downtown district.
In 1968, Davidson overheard news that the Detroit Lions were seeking a new football stadium in Southeast Michigan. Professor Davidson and city leaders made a push to develop a new multi-purpose stadium, which was built and became known as the Silverdome. Construction began on the 80,000-seat stadium in 1972 and it opened in 1975 as the Pontiac Metropolitan Stadium.
This was a part of Davidson's vision for Pontiac. Besides becoming the new home stadium of the NFL's Detroit Lions, NBA's Detroit Pistons and USFL's Michigan Panthers, the arena hosted such events as the 1979 NBA All-Star Game, the 1982 Super Bowl XVI game between the San Francisco 49ers and Cincinnati Bengals, and four matches of soccer's 1994 World Cup.
Construction began in the 1970s on an urban renewal project known as the "Pontiac Plan". The initial phase of this plan included the Phoenix Center, three office buildings, a transportation center, and a high-rise residential complex. The remainder of the plan was never completed. The city has struggled with declining population since 1980, due to industrial restructuring, especially in the automotive industry.
In July 2012, Mayor Leon Jukowski and Emergency Financial Manager Louis Schimmel announced plans to demolish the Phoenix Center. Its vacancy rates were high, and the city did not want to continue its high maintenance costs. New thinking about downtown was to re-emphasize the street grid; the city wanted to reconnect Saginaw Street to the downtown area. Owners of the connecting Ottawa Towers filed an injunction, claiming the demolition would devalue their property and result in lost parking. In December 2012, a judge granted an injunction for the Ottawa Towers on an "expedited calendar" which prevented the demolition of the Phoenix Center for the time being.
In 2010, city leaders and business owners had launched "The Rise of The Phoenix" initiative. This plan was intended to attract businesses interested in downtown retail space. The applicants selected would be given free rent in exchange for multi-year leases (two years or more) as well as one year of free parking in city lots. Some 52 new businesses were recruited to locate in downtown Pontiac, bringing new life to the city. Plans for the development of mixed-use and loft flats in downtown were announced in September 2011 by the Michigan Economic Growth Authority (MEGA). MEGA estimates the development could generate $20.4 million in new investment and create up to 107 permanent full-time jobs in downtown. The development was to be supported by a state tax break.
On January 26, 2012, West Construction Services began the renovation and restoration of the former Sears building for the Lafayette Place Lofts, the largest construction investment in Downtown Pontiac in approximately 30 years. The 80,000-square-foot (7,400 m2) project is a Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) certified residential and commercial mixed-use development: it will have 46 new urban rental lofts, a fresh food grocery store and café, and an Anytime Fitness center. Construction was completed during 2012 and the loft and market opened in December of that year. 10 West Lofts, another development in the area, will bring more residents to downtown Pontiac.
Pontiac Listings Summary
Pontiac - Town vs. County Stats
Avg Price in Pontiac: $157,400 / County Avg $559,700
Avg Sq. Ft. in Pontiac: 1,322 / County Avg 2,283
Avg Price per/sqft in Pontiac:$119 / County Avg $245
Avg Walkscore in Pontiac: 40 / County Avg 32
Avg Year Built in Pontiac: 1959 / County Avg 1976
Avg Days on Website in Pontiac: 72 / County Avg 66