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

Steph Willems
by Steph Willems
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.

[Image: General Motors]

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  • Jeff S Jeff S on May 22, 2019

    @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.

  • DeadWeight DeadWeight on May 24, 2019

    "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." LMFAO: "GUANGZHOU-GUADALAJARA MOTORS, OUR GLOBAL HEADQUARTERS HAS BETTER, ONLY BY RELATIVE STANDARDS, YET STILL ATROCIOUS, BUILD QUALITY AND RELIABILITY. MARK OF EXERENCE. SHI SHI." 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!

  • Jeff S We have had so many article about gas wars. A lighter subject on gas wars might be the scene from Blazing Saddles where the cowboys were around the campfire and how their gas contributed to global warming or was it just natural gas.
  • Jeff S We all have issues some big and most not so big. Better to be alive and face the issues than to be dead and not have the opportunity to face them.
  • NJRide Now more than ever, the US needs a brand selling cheaper cars. I know the old adage that a "good used car" is the best affordable transportation, but there has to be someone willing to challenge the $45k average gas crossover or $60k electric one that has priced out many working and middle class people from the market. So I think Mitsu actually may be onto something. Call me crazy but I think if they came up with a decent sedan in the Civic space but maybe for $19-20k as opposed to $25 they might get some traction there's still some people who prefer a sedan.However, I just compared a Trailblazer on Edmunds to an Outlander Sport. Virtually same size, the Trailblazer has heated seats, keyless ignition and satellite radio and better fuel economy for almost same price as the Mitsu. Plus a fresher body and a normal dealer network. This has always been the challenge off brands have had. Mitsu probably would have to come in $2-3k less than the Chevy unless they can finance more readily to the subprime crowd.
  • MaintenanceCosts At least on the US West Coast, Waze is perfectly happy to send cut-through drivers down residential streets or to disregard peak-hour turn or travel restrictions. I hope if it's going to be standard equipment the company starts taking a more responsible approach.
  • MaintenanceCosts I'm more curious about the effect (if any) on battery lifetime than range. Drawing current faster creates more heat and if that heat is not promptly drawn away it could affect life of the cells.I agree this sort of thing can make sense as a one-time option but is consumer-hostile as a subscription.
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