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General Motors to move Detroit HQ to new downtown building, plans to redevelop Renaissance Center

General Motors CEO Mary Barra addresses a news conference, Monday, April 15, 2024 in Detroit. (AP Photo/Carlos Osorio) General Motors CEO Mary Barra addresses a news conference, Monday, April 15, 2024 in Detroit. (AP Photo/Carlos Osorio)
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General Motors will move its Detroit headquarters to a new downtown office building next year and work to redevelop its iconic home along the Detroit River, company and city officials confirmed Monday.

The announcement was made at the site of the old Hudson’s department store, which is being developed into a tower and 12-story office building that will house GM and is being built by the Bedrock real estate firm.

Bedrock will join GM, the city, and Wayne County in coming up with ideas to remake the seven-building Renaissance Center, the company's current world headquarters and a showpiece on the city's skyline that's often shown on televised sports broadcasts.

GM CEO Mary Barra said the move to a brand new state-of-the-art office building in the heart of the city will help GM recruit talent in the future. The new site is about a mile (1.6 kilometers) north of the Renaissance Center. The move also keeps GM’s headquarters in the city for the foreseeable future, she said.

"We’re going to be in the heart of the city,” Barra said. “Our people are already excited to be in Detroit and live here. I think having this workspace that’s modern and new that really fits the way people work today, I think it’s definitely going to be an attraction.”

Bedrock Chairman Dan Gilbert said office building on the Hudson’s site on Woodward Avenue was designed and built to house a major corporation. The building and the adjacent tower will have meeting space, retail, a luxury hotel and living space, along what was America’s first paved road, he said.

The move will help Detroit continue to thrive, he said.

Mayor Mike Duggan said GM and Detroit have risen and fallen together for the past century, and he’s pleased to say that “GM and Detroit are rising together again.”

The future of Renaissance Center, home to GM through its brush with death and bankruptcy in 2009 as well as multiple years of huge profits, remains unclear. But the move next year will mark the end of an era for the automotive giant.

The main tower, the tallest building in Detroit, is 73 stories.

Through the years and especially after the pandemic, the number of GM employees at the building has dwindled, and multiple businesses located there have closed.

Barra said GM is open to ideas about the Renaissance Center complex, which the company bought nearly three decades ago. The company invested more than $1 billion there, she said. It's not selling the building at present, but that is possible.

Bedrock owns multiple office buildings throughout the city's downtown and has renovated many of them.

Barra said GM, Bedrock and governments will explore residential, commercial and mixed uses for the iconic tower complex, known locally as the RenCen.

“I am confident that together we can create a right future for that site,” Barra said Monday.

Duggan said Gilbert will know what to do with the complex in the future.

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.

Bedrock has been buying up properties downtown for many years and has led its rebirth. Gilbert 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 Canada.

But she qualified her statements, saying she couldn'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.

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 center in suburban Warren. After GM’s 2009 bankruptcy, the company considered moving the headquarters there.

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.

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