Report: Amid Cost-cutting Spree, GM Looked at Unloading Its Global HQ

General Motors’ Renaissance Center headquarters dominates the Detroit skyline, announcing America to Canadians even before they reach Windsor. A symbol of industrial might and the big business of autos, the 5.5 million-square-foot complex has been home to the biggest of the Big Three since GM acquired the property in 1996.

According to a new report, GM’s recent streamlining push saw company brass attempt to sell the property.

Automotive News, citing four sources familiar with the matter, claims the automaker looked at flipping the property to businessman and Detroit property owner extraordinaire Dan Gilbert last year.

Talks apparently didn’t get too far, with the building’s aging HVAC system reportedly serving as a sticking point. The building, which has already undergone numerous renovations, is in need of further upgrades.

Ford Motor Company, the building’s original tenant, launched construction on the sprawling complex in 1971, with the first phase opening five years later. When finished, the complex included a central 73-storey hotel and four 39-storey towers containing numerous shops and restaurants, plus a long list of corporate tenants. Ford sold the complex to an investor group in the early 1980s.

As GM can’t hope to occupy all space in the complex, and with the need for further upgrades, the thinking was that the company could free up cash by downsizing its HQ. According to one source, this could still happen, though another said a sale is now off the table.

“As a downtown Detroit-based company, we have regular discussions with other leaders and organizations about the city’s ongoing development,” GM said in a statement sent to AN. “We won’t share the details of those conversations or comment on speculation about specific discussions.”

Through its cost-cutting efforts, which include the mothballing of several North American plants, the elimination of several vehicle models, and a significant workforce reduction, GM hopes to save $6 billion in annual spending by the target year of 2020.

a version of this article first appeared on TTAC

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