Ties that Bind: U-M grad helping revitalize Motor City


 By Sheila Pursglove

Legal News 
Patrick Howe’s family put down roots in Detroit in the early 1900s. His great-grandfather, Leo Howe Sr., opened Howe Martz Glass Company in 1915 on Monroe Street in Detroit, where I-375 now sits. Specializing in manufacturing stained glass windows for many of Detroit’s churches, the company evolved into a full-service commercial glass contractor and worked on many of the major commercial projects in metro Detroit until closing its doors in 1992. 
“Participating in the Detroit building and development process has been in our family for many years, and I’m proud to continue participating in this process as a lawyer,” says Howe, an attorney with Howard & Howard in Royal Oak, specializing in real estate and hospitality law.
“The most rewarding thing for me is seeing a client take a dilapidated old building and turn it into a vibrant facility,” he says. “I’ve developed a niche client base of hospitality clients that have opened many of the iconic bars, restaurants, hotels, and breweries in the City of Detroit – most, if not all of which were opened in abandoned commercial buildings. There are a host of real estate, zoning, and licensing issues associated with these projects, and it’s fun to join a client’s development team to see these projects through from a simple concept plan to ribbon cutting.”
Development in Detroit is challenging, Howe notes. 
“The zoning ordinance is not in line with current development trends, and market demand,” he explains. “I commonly come across instances where all of the stakeholders are on board with a project, but because of the zoning ordinance, a number of approvals and hearings are required. I enjoy attempting to balance the interests of my client, with the interest of the city and neighbors.” 
The first lawyer in his family, Howe got a feel for this career as an undergrad at the University of Michigan, where he served as president of a 140-member fraternity. 
“I was constantly dealing with lease issues, property management issues, risk management issues, and had to balance the interest of members, neighbors, the University, alumni and guests – in many respects, performing many of the same roles a lawyer would perform for a client,” he says. 
He earned his juris doctor from the University of Detroit Mercy School of Law, following in the footsteps of his grandfather Thomas Elliott and great uncle Kenneth Elliott, who moved to Detroit from Connecticut to attend UDM (then the University of Detroit), and play varsity football. 
As a Catholic, Howe enjoyed the Jesuit tradition of UDM, where he served as executive editor of the University of Detroit Mercy Law Review, and also garnered numerous academic awards. He has also served as an adjunct professor at UDM, teaching administrative law.
He particularly appreciated the university’s location, in the heart of downtown Detroit. Living downtown for part of law school, he took the “People Mover” rail system to class every day. 
“This was in 2002, long before much of the redevelopment that has taken place since then,” he says. “Looking back, I was looking for an urban experience in an urban setting that wasn’t quite ready for the urban young professional. If I needed dinner, I recall having to make sure I went somewhere before 5 o’clock – otherwise I would likely be out of luck. These days, there are countless options for dining and entertainment 24/7 in downtown Detroit, and it amazes me how far the city has come since I lived there.”