Apr 17, 2024 - News

What's next for Detroit's Renaissance Center

Detroit's Renaissance Center

The Renaissance Center. Photo: Courtesy of JSanta Fabio via General Motors

As General Motors plans to leave the RenCen next year, the future of Michigan's tallest building is a big unknown, with speculation already swirling.

Why it matters: The 14-acre riverfront campus has a mixed reputation. The Renaissance Center is an iconic landmark with breathtaking views, but the collection of towers is difficult to navigate and disconnected from the city.

Catch up quick: GM will move its headquarters to Dan Gilbert's Hudson's Detroit office building in 2025.

  • Over the next year, the automaker will discuss a plan for the RenCen's redevelopment with Bedrock, Gilbert's real estate arm.

State of play: Converting RenCen office space into residential is one possibility. It would be pricey, but many cities are transforming underused office space as a key part of their plans to adapt to the post-COVID-19 era.

  • Real estate experts told the Detroit News it would make sense to convert at least some of the office space to hotel or residential space, and to potentially form a joint venture since Bedrock has experience repurposing buildings.

The intrigue: While GM and partners are focusing on redevelopment, the RenCen's demolition isn't off the table, Crain's wrote.

What they're saying: Redeveloping the buildings would make them worth more if GM decides to sell in the future, Paul Choukourian at Colliers' Royal Oak office told the News.

  • "So if they do decide to sell it at some point, they'll do better by working with Bedrock over some amount of time to secure the buildings, to maybe put tenants in there or reposition them or whatever they're going to do," Choukourian said.
  • The owner of two restaurants in the RenCen, Andiamo and Joe Muer, told the News he was concerned about revenue with GM workers leaving.

Context: Of the seven-tower complex with hotel and office space, five are owned by GM. Farmington Hills-based Friedman Real Estate bought the other two smaller towers, the final ones built, late last year from a New Jersey company, per Crain's.

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