Kathy Makino-Leipsitz is the President and managing partner of Shelborne Development. Over the last 37 years, Shelborne has helped to build and rehabilitate over 2,000 housing units in Southeast Michigan with a special focus on preserving over 30 vacant historic buildings in the City of Detroit. The company currently owns 1,300 of those rehabilitated units.
In 1979, Kathy purchased a duplex in the City of Westland while a student at the University of Michigan. Kathy’s interest in real estate continued following her graduation. She began with her first purchase of a 30-unit apartment building in what was then the Cass Corridor in Midtown Detroit. Over the next 20 years, Shelborne’s work included new construction and the rehabilitation of several apartment buildings throughout Detroit and Southeast Michigan.
In 2003, Shelborne purchased a blighted, vacant and boarded apartment building on Seward Street. In the next 3 years, Shelborne completed a $10 million gut rehabilitation, resulting in 71 units of quality affordable housing. In 2005, Shelborne was asked to step into another project on Seward Street (consisting of 4 multi-family buildings) that had struggled for years and was underperforming due to low occupancy. Seward Street was plagued by drugs, crime, and a very poor tenant profile. Kathy realized that by purchasing multiple buildings in one area that she could actually make an impact on the entire neighborhood. From 2003 to 2012, Shelborne purchased 6 out of the 9 distressed buildings on Seward Street. The most recent building located at 112 Seward completed by Shelborne Development has received the National Historic Rehabilitation Association’s Timmy Award for Best Historic Rehabilitation (under $10 million) in the nation. Shelborne has expanded its concentration to two other neighborhoods, Palmer Park and Jefferson East Corridor. As a result, from 203 to 2018, Shelborne has completed the rehabilitation of 14 buildings in the Palmer Park historic apartment district, New Center and the Jefferson-Chalmers neighborhoods.
Over the years, Kathy has been recognized with several achievement awards. The awards include: D Business Magazine the 2015 Powered by Women Award, Syndicator WNC Developer of the Year, Jefferson East Inc., 2012 Developer of the year, The University of Michigan and the Urban Land Institute Real Estate Excellence Award, as well as The Wayne County Commission recognized her for her continued dedication to Reinvesting in Detroit. Shelborne’s developments have received several national awards including LISC’s Most Community Impact Award for Palmer Park, the 2014 Multifamily Executive Magazines Grand Award for National Project of the year award for Chalmers Square along with the Novogradac award for Historic Rehabilitation with Most Community Impact.
Kathy’s civic commitments and to devotion to the redevelopment of Detroit include serving as a board member on the Michigan Housing Council, Jefferson East Inc., Recovery Park and Clinton House Supportive Housing. She also remains active in community groups such as “The People for Palmer Park” and Maheras-Gentry Park Board of Directors. She recently was appointed to the Wayne County Joint Airport Authorities Zoning Board of Appeals.