Modern Home Builders: The Missing Middle

In 1926, Sol Rosenhaus founded Uniland Corporation (Uniland) in Detroit, Michigan. The enterprise has gone on to become one of the oldest building companies in the region, and it proudly maintains complete family ownership. Today, the organization’s offerings include construction services, multifamily renovations, property management, and construction consulting. Aaron Rosenhaus, COO, sits down with Modern Home Builders to talk through 2022 operations, and the current challenges facing the homebuilding industry.

“Our focus has remained on workforce housing and redevelopment, while navigating the turbulent state of today’s market.” Aaron opens. “We have continued our efforts in transforming non-habitable buildings into new workforce housing apartments, such as Euclid Haus, which will open this summer. As a sister property to Philadelphia Haus, it features thoughtful design and luxury finishes for the workforce housing demographic.

Euclid Haus has high-grade interior finishes usually seen in luxury living such as quartz counter tops, finished hardwood floors, high-end appliances, in-unit laundry, high-efficiency HVAC, video security, and more, not aimed at the luxury individuals who often are the only ones who get to enjoy this kind of aesthetic.”

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Modern Home Builders: Building With the End in Mind

At 96 years old, Uniland Corporation remains family-owned and maintains the same level of passion and excitement for the home-building industry as it did when it was first brought to life in 1926

With only four years to go until its centennial, Uniland Corporation (Uniland) prides itself on being an innovative residential developer, says company’s Chief Operating Officer Aaron Rosenhaus and fourth-generation Rosenhaus to lead the firm. In fact, it was Rosenhaus’ great grandfather who established the company in the city of Detroit. Aaron, who now works with his father and a supportive team, discusses Uniland’s best practices, and shares a few projects that exemplify the full extent to which its capabilities: completing third party general contracting, new developments and the renovation of multi-family communities.

Joint success serves as the glue that has kept the company operating for so long. “The idea is that I don’t succeed unless my colleagues succeed, and vice versa. So, we listen to the needs of the project team members and set expectations early on to understand each project’s unique goals,” Aaron says. “When my grandfather came back from the second World War, that’s really when this core value began to shine. It was under his leadership that we started opening up our business conduit to start earning the ability for joint venture partners, which successfully carried us through the early 80s,” he says.

In the mid-80s, when the office market declined, Uniland seized the opportunity to pivot towards land and single-family housing development. “We would buy raw land, develop the lots, and then sell about two-thirds to other home builders, and build out the remaining third ourselves.

“Then, when the recession hit, we found opportunity to pivot our focus towards the multi-family industry, making key investments to grow Uniland property management, ownership and construction services,” Aaron says.

Creative approach
Fast forward to 2011, when Aaron joined the Uniland team, he continued to build upon his family’s legacy by maintaining a clear vision of the end product for each project and is a master at finding creative solutions to improve tenant experience. “Whether we’re the sole developers, or doing third-party development, restoration, renovation, or even developing existing structures – there are unique creative opportunities for us to refine our skills.

“We have to consider the space in which we are given to work with, for example, when redeveloping an existing property, you might be confined by the parameters of the physical structure, but that actually allows the opportunity for us to explore new ways to improve the activation of each space – maximizing functionality and providing a high-quality curated product for the intended user – the tenant(s), all while creating the best long-term value for the property and specifically the building owner.”

A recent example of this is demonstrated at Uniland’s newest development, Philadelphia Haus located on West Philadelphia Street, Detroit, which started out as a dilapidated 120-year-old apartment building. Uniland re-designed the entire interior floorplan of the building to greatly increase unit square footages, create open floor plans, add tons of storage, and provide spaces that best meet the needs of today’s modern tenant.

“Uniland does not just build for today, we build with the future in mind. We made sure to design the building’s utility systems with the ability to easily convert it to condos by providing shut-offs, so the building can be individually metered with minor adjustment required,” he explains.

Another example in downtown Detroit is Cathedral Towers Apartments, where, again, the company’s ingenuity and innovation come to the forefront. “We were the construction manager at Cathedral Towers Apartments and discovered 34 granite kitchen countertops were cut too small for the project. So instead of all that material going to a landfill, Uniland redesigned the kitchens of a nearby Uniland development, Philadelphia Haus, to fit the salvaged granite that otherwise would have been thrown away. Uniland was able to minimize the impact at the Cathedral Tower Apartments renovation project while lowering a material cost for Philadelphia Haus and in turn reallocate those savings into additional value-add for Philadelphia Haus.

“This is another fantastic trait of Uniland – once we’ve set our budgets, that target is concrete. So, if we come under, those additional funds are reinvested into that project, for again, a better tenant experience,” he explains.

Shared successes
A major component to Uniland’s success is no secret at all: it’s the people. Across its in-house network, the business boasts a strong, transparent and supportive culture that is crucial to creating its beautiful residential environments. “I mentioned earlier the idea of joint success; this, I think, is what attracts many of our long-term employees. But it’s not just an idea, it’s about demonstrating that across our company, our supply chain, and through our relationships with our clients and partners.

“We also place a massive importance on accountability, both downstream and upstream, and that’s critical to building long-term, reliable relationships with both clients, our team, and business partners.”

In fact, Uniland’s company culture spurs one of the proudest data points Aaron is able to share. “Once an employee stays with us beyond that 18-to-24-month mark, we almost have zero turnover, which is remarkable in today’s age; not only in the construction industry, but in the general labor market.

“When we’ve found an individual that we feel will become vital to our business, we work to make sure they feel valued and enjoy being part of our team. We put in the extra effort to maintain and really hold those relationships close to us. But in order to do that, we have to follow through on our actions by supporting and encouraging each other.

“I’ll give you an example of where this really shone through: we had a project for a senior affordable housing community, in which we were contracted to renovate 60 kitchens in 60 days.

So, we’d enter an apartment unit, rip out the countertops and cabinets, install new ones, hook up the plumbing, and get out of there.

“We scheduled this job for one kitchen per day, and we made a deal with our employees that if we could beat that schedule but maintain our quality, we would share in the increased profit margins on this project, and I’m very proud to say that our crew – with no elevator access in the building – were able to renovate 60 kitchens in about 51 days.

“So, when final payment came, there was no hesitation in sharing that profit with the entire team. Our work is not always as easy as that, but when there is an opportunity to reward our staff for the fantastic work they do, we are not afraid to get in the trenches alongside them, and then gladly share the fruits of their labor; that’s really what we try to do every single day.”

Overall, Aaron emphasizes how proud he is of the relationships that have been part of Uniland’s journey, both from an employee,client, partner, and supply-chain perspective. He is incredibly optimistic that the company will continue to thrive in the legacy laid down by his forefathers for many more years to come.

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Modern Home: Bi-coastal Expansion

Since 2015, MRK Partners, Inc. has acquired, rehabilitated, preserved and developed affordable housing properties that are the definition of quality. Over just six years, Founder and President Sydne Garchik has grown the company to maintain a presence on both the West and East Coasts and established MRK as a leader in holistic affordable housing creation.

MRK’s portfolio now includes over 4,000 units throughout California, Michigan, Maryland, Virginia and Florida, with another 1,500 units in its development pipeline. It recently opened a second office in Boca Raton, Florida, allowing the company to develop deeper relationships with partners and communities as its Florida portfolio expands.

Despite industry-wide setbacks from the COVID-19 pandemic, MRK has continued to grow, demonstrating the firm’s resiliency and the strength of Garchik’s leadership. Garchik says the pandemic has galvanized the affordable housing sector toward change, giving developers and their partners new opportunities to make a real difference in the lives of residents.

“As we look out in the future and look at our communities, we’re really thinking about the economic impact of the pandemic-both short-term and long-term-and trying to adjust our services and anything else that we can do in the future accordingly,” she says.


One of the hallmarks of MRK’s properties is how well they fit into their surrounding communities and how they build communities of their own. The company’s mission is not only to make each development feel like home and craft a sense of community within the building but also to connect its properties to the larger communities they’re a part of.

“We believe that improvement is not just within our individual community but also within the local community. How do we help-as much as we can-both be successful?” Garchik says. “For example, during COVID-19, we instituted some resident volunteers to do wellness checks. They called residents to say, ‘Hey, how are you doing? Are you okay? I’m here if you need me.’ And then, additionally, we provided meals from local restaurants to residents that needed them and said, ‘Here’s how we’re trying to benefit a local resource to build upon the community and bring that in to our smaller community.’ [We’re asking ourselves), how do we, at a micro and more of a macro level, generate positive improvements?”

Holistic resident services also serve to build community. MRK’s resident services platform includes health and wellness initiatives, after-school programs, adult education classes, computer lab access, career development and financial planning-many of which are provided through its service partner, Rainbow Housing. To take its service programming a step further, the company is exploring ways to both integrate services on site in community spaces and do more for residents through benefits like scholarship programs.


MRK’s portfolio continues to grow with new and innovative properties. In Detroit, Michigan, the team recently completed an in-place rehabilitation of the Cathedral Apartments, a 236-unit multifamily property. The community received substantial upgrades, including new kitchen cabinets, countertops and plumbing fixtures; stainless-steel, energy-efficient appliances; new flooring; new heating and cooling systems; energy-efficient lighting; and updated window systems.

The effort preserved the property’s affordability for another 45 years. Uniland Corporation served as the construction manager for the development.

“In order to achieve a successful multifamily renovation project within an occupied building, you need solid leadership and a cohesive team, along with a symphony of communication and coordination to minimize impacts to the residents, community operations and construction schedule,” says Aaron Rosenhaus, Chief Operating Officer of Uniland Corporation. “Performing such a project with the additional challenges of the last few years was successfully executed due to the high-level communication and drive of Sydne and the MRK Partners team.”

MRK is now underway on a ground-up senior development south of Miami, Florida, called Sol Vista Apartments.

The property is the second phase of the Casa Devon rehabilitation MRK completed in 2019. By splitting the parcel into two, MRK is adding an additional 200 affordable senior apartments, essentially doubling the community’s units.

“Especially with COVID-19 and the increasing competition in the space and talking about creativity [with capital], we had to look at our portfolio to take advantage of the low- hanging fruit and the current value-add…” says Hai Nguyen, MRK’s Director of Acquisitions. “That’s exciting news for us, being able to still do that in the midst of everything going on right now.”

MRK’s growing portfolio, its efforts in the industry and its future plans all stand as a testament to the successful leadership Garchik has used to develop her company. To the future female leaders in affordable housing, she leaves some sage advice.

“First, it’s a journey; be patient. If you love what you’re doing and find what you love, then you’ll weather the good times and the bad,” she says. “Second, learn how to think around a problem. I think some of the best advice and learning I did in my career is understanding [there] are different ways to get to a solution. And three, have fun. Sometimes life is messy, but if you are laughing and sharing those experiences with those that matter, then it will all work out.”

Link to Magazine.

The Well and JN’s 36 Under 36: Aaron L. Rosenhaus

Aaron L. Rosenhaus, 34, of Detroit, is the COO of Uniland Corporation, a real estate development and construction company. He was recognized as 2017 Young Builder of the Year and 2018 Urban Builder by the Home Builders Association.

Aaron prides himself as a dedicated champion for the continued growth and development in the city of Detroit. His ties to the Motor City date back all the way to 1926, when his great-grandfather, Sol Rosenhaus, started their family business Downtown.

When Aaron, a fourth-generation builder, joined Uniland Corporation, he made it a priority for Uniland to continue its investment in the city where it all began. As a result, Uniland is proud to have completed projects in 12 Detroit neighborhoods over the past five years; specializing in the restoration and renovation of multifamily properties, with many new projects on the horizon.

Aaron, a proud member of Federation’s National Young Leaders, is able to use NYL to further his involvement with the Jewish community in local and global outlets. He is also a proud cheerleader of The Well and recently acknowledged as one of the inaugural 36 Champions.

This certainly is not the beginning for Uniland or Aaron in Detroit, but a continuation of a 92-year history, doing his part to improve a city and community in which has provided so much to Aaron, Uniland and the Rosenhaus family.