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Renaissance Center faces uncertain future after GM's announces move to Hudson's site in 2025

Posted at 5:37 PM, Apr 16, 2024

DETROIT (WXYZ) — With news of General Motors' plan to move its headquarters next year, the Renaissance Center's future use is uncertain.

Watch the announcement:

GM and Bedrock hold joint news conference to announce General Motors' world headquarters is moving to the Hudon's site in 2025

Monday, GM announced it plans to move less than a mile away to the new Hudson site which is under construction.

According to the automaker, the Renaissance Center is 5.5 million square feet. That makes it one of the largest commercial building complexes in the world.

Metro Detroiter Steven Cove said, “It is a shocker because when we came down today, I was like curious myself. I gotta stop by and see what’s going on with the new Hudson’s site.”

After checking out the Hudson site, Steven Cove, his wife Ursula, and loved ones from Germany grabbed lunch inside the Renaissance Center. That’s where we met with them and let them know GM announced plans to move to a new permanent home at the Hudson site next year.

Ursula Cove said, “I would like to know what that would mean if this happens.”

“Being that it is GM, that’s what draws everybody here and if GM does move out, it’s going to be kind of hard to fill those shoes for what GM did, to have these establishments stay in here," Steven Cove explained.

They ate Panera. Well, there’s also a Subway, Andiamo’s, a tailoring shop, and an optometrist. That's just to name a few of the existing tenants within the seven towers.

There’s also empty space in the Ren Cen, but it's not nearly as big as the void that will be left by GM's impending departure.

Watch our report on the announcement:

General Motors announces plans to move headquarters to Hudson's site in 2025

7 Action News took the thoughts and questions we came across to a real estate development expert. We asked Brian Connolly what he thinks is feasible for a space like the Ren Cen.

Connolly, an assistant professor at the University of Michigan Ross School of Business, noted the massive amount of office space in the complex and explained the office market isn’t doing so well.

“Folks who own office buildings are trying to figure out how to fill them, given that people are working from home and you’ve got companies downsizing their lease footprints," he explained.

At Monday's press conference, GM chairwoman and CEO Mary Barra said the Renaissance Center's future will be determined over the next year.

“We'll explore possibilities for the complex, including commercial or residential or mixed-use," she said.

"I know with GM, Bedrock, and the county and the city working together, we are going to find the right solution to the long-term use of the Renaissance Center," Mayor Mike Duggan said.

The mayor pointed to Bedrock's renovation of the historic Book Tower as an example. What used to be office space is now residential. As Barra mentioned, the Ren Cen could share a similar future.

Connolly said, “I know there’s a lot of interest in converting older office space to residential use. That’s a really challenging thing to do."

He explained, "There are a lot of building systems and things that need to be upgraded and modified in order to be able to do that, but hey, ya know this is the Renaissance Center. Maybe somebody wants a penthouse unit in the Renaissance Center.”