HONORING BURTON FARBMAN’S LEGACY
It’s a testament to his entrepreneurial spirit and personal dynamism that the founding of Farbman Group and subsequently Huntington Construction were in many ways just the storied beginning: among the first milestones in a life that was destined for many more to come.
With Burt serving as Chairman and Chief Executive Officer, Farbman Group would establish itself as one of the industry’s most respected and accomplished providers of full-service real estate services and solutions throughout the Midwest. His vision was to create a leading full-service organization with the ability to handle all facets of commercial real estate. Today, Farbman Group employs more than 200 people and manages more than 30 million square feet of office, retail, multifamily, senior housing and industrial real estate. With divisions including property management, asset management, investment sales, construction, development, medical real estate and more, Farbman truly is the all-in-one real estate solution provider that Burt Farbman envisioned at its inception. His vision has been made a reality with Farbman Group’s success and impact for the past 47 years.
Everything that makes Farbman Group special—and successful—originated in the character and personality of Burt Farbman. Farbman is an organization that does things the right way, with attentive service, personalized hands-on commitment, and meticulous attention to detail. It’s a place where deep local knowledge and premium resources are points of pride, and where a constant emphasis on uncompromising quality helps build lasting partnerships with clients, tenants, owners, and investors.
As a visionary who rose from humble beginnings to achieve enormous professional success, Burt’s work would have far-reaching implications, including an extraordinary legacy of transformative projects that have both literally and figuratively reshaped the Detroit skyline. Highlights include the $30 million restoration of the Old Wayne County Building. One of the premier redevelopments in downtown Detroit, the project was recognized with a prestigious ULI award and was made possible in part because of Farbman’s work in helping to establish Detroit’s first public/private partnership. Farbman developed the new Detroit Field Division of the Drug Enforcement Agency in downtown Detroit, and Burt performed critical master planning work for Wayne County that fueled the growth of the Northville and Novi communities. He helped develop and implement the land acquisition strategies for the new Comerica Park and Ford Field, as well as for the Detroit Metro Airport expansion. Burt developed the Social Security Administration Building in Royal Oak, the Drug Enforcement Agency Building. several primary care satellite facilities for the Detroit Medical Center throughout metropolitan Detroit, developed the CBD YMCA and is responsible for building millions of square feet of the Troy Research and Development market. He developed the iconic 3rd Riverfront Towers luxury apartment building in downtown Detroit—a project almost as memorable as his wild idea to promote the project by having Detroit Tigers star Cecil Fielder hit baseballs off the roof to a target on the Detroit River.
Burt’s leadership and support for Detroit’s institutions extended well beyond the world of commercial real estate. He served as the Commissioner of the Detroit Zoo for over 20 years, donating millions to an institution that became not just a state highlight, but a national one. He was the first Jewish Chairman of the Southeast Michigan Branch of the YMCA, and he served as President of The Detroit Club and Franklin Hills Country Club. He was appointed by Mayor Mike Duggan to a position as Detroit Drug Czar and has served on the Board of Directors of the Detroit Economic Growth Corporation; Thorn Apple Valley; the Economic Club of Detroit; and the Detroit Legal News. He is a past Chairman of the Detroit Chapter of the Young Presidents’ Organization, a member of the World Presidents Organization and a Steering Committee Member of the Urban Land Institute’s Detroit Regional District Council.
In keeping with his commitment to service and to giving back to the community, Burt has given generously and regularly to a wide range of charitable causes, including the Karmanos Cancer Center and the Jewish Federation. He is a founding patron of Beyond Basics and has been a board member of the Special Olympics of Southwest Florida.
Burt was an organic intellectual who taught classes at the University of Detroit and taught photography in the classrooms of Herman Elementary and Charles C Rogers Academy. A true renaissance man with wide and varied interests ranging from fishing and farming to horseback riding and photography, Burt was a raconteur and an adventurer. But most of all he was a man who loved nothing more than spending time with his family.
An innovator and entrepreneur. A lifelong student, an enthusiastic teacher, and a natural leader. A lifelong advocate for AIPAC and a true American patriot. A man whose curiosity and compassion fueled his personal passions and his professional accomplishments, and a CEO who built an empire that started with little more than hard work and his handshake. Burt was a family man who loved his wife, Suzy, his sons Andy and David and his many grandchildren. He instilled his entrepreneurial spirit in Andy and David Farbman and beamed with pride at all they accomplished and the good people that they are He loved his wife Suzy who was a true partner to him and who stood with him through good and bad times, always with love in her heart. Burt was a philanthropist and a civic treasure who invested his time and energy in building a better Detroit. Burt Farbman was all of these things. He was a man who loved his work, his city, and his family and friends, and who leaves a legacy that honors them all.