By on May 21, 2019

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.

[Image: General Motors]

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24 Comments on “Report: Amid Cost-cutting Spree, GM Looked at Unloading Its Global HQ...”

  • avatar
    formula m

    Amazing how that giant corporate tax cut in 2017 is really paying off. This is called trickle down economics people. Tired of winning yet?

    • 0 avatar

      They didn’t sell it. How does that relate to the tax cut?

      But they should sell it and cull some more of the white collar herd. I was under the impression that they were supposed to add value to shareholders. Silly me.

      • 0 avatar
        formula m

        They got a bundle of cash out of nowhere (tax break) to hand over to stockholders, where is it going to come from this year? and the next?

        • 0 avatar

          The auto industry is self-dismembering because the Obama regime was in the pocket of globalists who are using AGW mythology to fool people into forfeiting their freedoms and eventually their lives. The economy as a whole is flourishing, but Trump has been unable to deprogram the suicide cultists and save our personal liberties from socialist-permeated regulatory agencies.

          • 0 avatar

            Todd, you lost me at “Obama.” You do know the government bailed out GM under George W. Bush, right? From there your post just keeps going downhill. Change your news sources, or your meds, or something.

          • 0 avatar

            Uhh, “Globalism” started under Reagan and Walmart spearheaded the “opening” of China.

            For the past near 4 decades, the big corporation wing of the Republican party has gotten pretty much everything it has wanted, including Supreme Court decisions (remember, corporations are “people” too).

            Which is why the wealth gap is the largest its ever been since the time of the “Robber Barrons” and why the middle class keeps shrinking.

            Also, this current recovery started under Obama after Republican policies once again tanked the economy, and another economic downturn is on its way due to the policies (if one can call it that) of the current admin.

          • 0 avatar

            bd2 is the opposite side of the coin from Todd. You’re both wrong for the same reasons. Neither one of you is willing to admit your team screwed everyone over for their own gains.

            Take heart….. Much of the country is like you guys. Unwilling to leave the safe confines of your echo chamber to hear that you’ve been had by the guys you thought were lookin’ out for you.

          • 0 avatar


            What “team” am I exactly on?

            Was a life-long Republican (in that being an Eisenhower-type Republican) and unlike what Republicans like to claim, a true fiscal conservative.

            No doubt that the Dems have been complicit (specifically the New Dems who went along w/ the Republicans), but that’s hardly surprising as our political system is based on campaign contributions and it’s the corporations and uber-wealthy that provide most of the $$ for politics.

            But it really doesn’t matter what political system one has as the wealth disparity has increased pretty much everywhere (which, again, isn’t surprising as the ones w/ power/wealth write the rules) – whether it be the EU, Russia, the PRC, India, Pakistan, Brazil, Argentina, Israel, Egypt, etc.

            And at the time US corporations started to flood into China, knew that was a mistake – not only for how it would decimate the American middle class, but give the PRC that much of a boost in challenging the US (basically, really shortening the time-table); and while it was advantageous for the top brass and shareholders in the short term, was a bad move in the long term as Chinese competitors would eventually appear and undercut them on price.

            Nonetheless, every major economic downturn during my lifetime has occurred due to Republican economic and regulatory policies (which are hardly “conservative”)- the recessions arising from the S&L crisis, the dotcom bubble and the Great Recession.

        • 0 avatar

          @formula m,

          Ok, please explain how “a bundle of cash out of nowhere” made its way to shareholders. Did they send them a check?

          No, they didn’t. They bought back shares. Usually that raises the stock price, but in this case the company has too many lingering issues that made that a non-starter to boost the stock price. If you don’t like that, don’t own shares of the company. I don’t.

          When the government (irrespective of the party) decides that they need to pick winners and losers, that’s when the market doesn’t work. You have to be clueless if you don’t admit the UAW wasn’t a target voting audience and that’s why the bailout happened. Maybe you weren’t old enough then, I can’t speak to that.

          Let’s not forget that BONDHOLDERS as well as shareholders were taken out by the GM bailout, turning a normal bankruptcy proceeding on its head. I won’t forget it, as a former bond holder and shareholder.

          So continue your silly rant. Perhaps one day you will see that there was value in allowing many companies to reinvest their profits back into their business. Anyone who follows their investment $$ steered clear of GM.

          It’s no surprise to me the stock is tanking. Maybe you can guide them out of the hole. I took my punishment.

          • 0 avatar


            Please explain how you hang the “dotcom” bubble on the Republicans exclusively. I’m having a hard time searching history to find another similar experience.

            I tend to remember that irrespective of your stripes, everyone needed a taste of “”. I do agree with your assessment that the US should not have farmed out our manufacturing. Time will tell if we ever get it back, but that’s not a republican exclusive issue.

          • 0 avatar


            The Republicans led by Phil Gramm did away w/ the post-Great Depression banking protections of the Glass-Steagall Act.

            So Wall St. banks not only got to keep “analyzing/rating” stocks, but to trade shares not only for clients (of whom, they have often cited as being “suckers”) or for themselves, as well as being the underwriter.

            This led to a huge CONFLICT of interest.

            Bank “analysts” would continue to pump up stock that they knew were garbage to benefit their bank’s interest (and to that effect, their clients’).

            Saw something similar to the subprime/derivatives mess, and not surprisingly, Phil Gramm (and his wife) had a major hand in that as well, not to mention the market manipulation of energy markets by Enron (via the “Enron loophole” in a bill sponsored by Gramm).

            Gramm’s wife Wendy, was the head of the CFTC when Enron was lobbying for exemptions to oversight and not surprisingly, upon leaving the CFTC was appointed to Enron’s Board.

            There’s a lot more to this stuff, but would be too lengthy.

  • avatar

    I don’t think this is the first time they’ve talked about selling it. Didn’t they talk about moving the headquarters to Warren (the Eero Saarinen-designed GM Design Center) a couple of years ago?

    • 0 avatar

      But there seems to be a sense of urgency in the US automotive sector this time around so as to not get caught with their pants down around their ankles, like in 2008.

      Some automotive analysts forecast a slow down in US auto sales starting this fall with the 2020 models; that’s this Fall. Just a few months away.

      And then there are the looming tariffs that will be placed on all automotive goods and products entering the US, thus raising the final price to the US buyer.

      There actually is unity on the Hill about correcting the trade imbalance that has existed for decades.

      Finally! A US President who is going to correct the trade imbalance or tariff the hell out of the imported goods. So far, so good.

      Let’s have more of it, until we all can enjoy free trade.

  • avatar
    Jeff S

    Sell it and if GM wants to still be in the building then lease what they need. It doesn’t really matter if GM has a building of its own especially if the Chinese end up owning them.

  • avatar

    It is still ironic to me that the development of the building that came to be GM’s headquarters was championed by Henry Ford II.

  • avatar
    Jeff S

    “Guangzhou Motors should relocate its headquarters to Guangzhou, China.”

    Agree that is where it should be. General Motors is just a memory as is Sears.

    • 0 avatar

      @Jeff S, ah, Sears. I remember when my father would pack us up on a Saturday and drive us to the Sears so that he could get some repair work done on his Olds, while we headed into the store and picked up some clothing items and managed to hit the candy and nut shop (they had really good cashews) – no, wait, I’d never put my kids through that!

  • avatar
    Jeff S

    @civicjohn–I remember as well, good memories. Remember going with my father to Sears and getting an oil change and repairs on his Roman Red 1962 Chevy II 300.

    • 0 avatar

      @Jeff S, the Sears I went to is now been converted to the homeless mission of my city. Maybe it is serving it’s purpose. I hope that you were able to grab that Chevy II! That reminds me of the 66 Chevelle my dad drove us to school in…3 on the tree, no AC, but it rocked!

  • avatar
    Jeff S

    @civicjohn–Unfortunately my father sold it when I went away to college. My 2 older brothers and I drove it thru high school and I drove it the first year of college when I was a commuter student. My father custom ordered it with a red interior, Power-glide, AM radio, I-6, padded dash, and no air. I kept that Chevy II up and waxed it every couple of months to where it was so shinny you could see yourself on the paint. I fixed the headliner and put happy faces on it–it actually looked good. Not sure what happened to the Sears we went to since I no longer live in Houston but the Sears in the mall in Florence, KY near where I now live remains empty. I miss the old Chevies of the past. I do currently have a 99 S-10 I-4 extended cab with a 5 speed manual which I have had since new which still looks and drives like new. Use the water less car detailing cleaner and wax on it (also poly seal it once a year) and it maintains a great shine on it (pewter color). Love that old S-10 it has been very reliable. That truck is eventually going to my nephew.

  • avatar

    “According to a new report, GM’s recent streamlining push saw company brass attempt to sell [their Headquarters, the Renaissance Center, a f’cked up maze of a building with windows that spontaneously fallout, and energy efficiency levels right out of the 1950s, to Dan Gilbert].

    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.”


    Maybe Guangzhou-Guadalajara Motors can try and flip their armpit of an HQ in an armpit of a city, to a naive Chinese investor real estate limited liability partnership!

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