General Motors moving to new Detroit tower, plans to redevelop iconic Renaissance Center: source


General Motors plans to move its iconic Detroit headquarters to a new downtown office tower and redevelop its home office site, a person briefed on the plans said.

The company has scheduled a news conference Monday afternoon with the Bedrock real estate firm to announce the plans, the person said.

In addition, Bedrock, which owns multiple office buildings downtown, will join GM in studying redevelopment of the seven-building Renaissance Center now owned by GM, said the person, who asked not to be identified because the plans have not been formally announced.

GM CEO Mary Barra and and Bedrock Chairman Dan Gilbert will attend the news conference at the site of a new tower Bedrock is building on the site of the old Hudson’s department store in the heart of downtown.

The person said that GM’s main office would move to the Hudson’s tower.

The plan does not involve GM selling the RenCen, as the tower complex is known locally. The complex is the centrepiece of Detroit’s skyline and often appears on sports television broadcasts.

GM bought the tower complex in 1996 and later moved its headquarters there from a site north of downtown. It has housed the company ever since, so the move would mean the end of an era at the site.

Gilbert’s Bedrock has been buying up properties downtown for many years and has led its rebirth. He also runs loan company Rocket Mortgage.

In a 2022 interview, Barra told The Associated Press that GM will keep its main office in the RenCen complex, just across the Detroit River from Windsor, Ont.

GM logo on a curved building with lots of window panes.
The GM logo is seen on the façade of the General Motors headquarters in Detroit on March 16, 2021. (Rebecca Cook/Reuters)

But she qualified her statements, saying she can’t predict what might happen in five, 10 or 15 years. Since then, about 5,000 white-collar workers at GM took early retirement buyouts, and may workers are still on a hybrid office-home work schedule, so GM needs less office space.

“Our headquarters will always be in Detroit, in the RenCen,” she said, using the name given to the complex by locals. “Right now the plan is for it to be at the Renaissance Center. That’s our home,” she said.

The company takes up about 1 1/2 of the RenCen’s towers, which have seen little pedestrian traffic for years. Much of GM’s work force, including product development and engineering, is north of the city at an updated 1950s technical centre in suburban Warren. After GM’s 2009 bankruptcy, the company considered moving the headquarters there.

“As we move to having more of a hybrid work structure, we have to look at what’s the right space,” Barra said.

She also hinted in the interview that GM would explore riverfront development opportunities with the city.

The Renaissance Center was built by Henry Ford II, who formed a coalition in the 1970s in an effort to reinvigorate Detroit’s downtown.

Bedrock announced last week that the final structural steel beam had been put in place on the Hudson’s tower, which is expected to have 1.5 million square feet of retail, office, dining, hospitality and residential space. The new tower is about a mile north of GM’s current headquarters.

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