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Bedrock, Riverfront Holdings Grab More Real Estate in Downtown Detroit

6 Jun 2014, 1:52 pm

By Veronica Grecu, Associate Editor

Riverfront Holdings Inc., a subsidiary of General Motors, grabbed four properties near the Detroit riverfront area and east of the Renaissance Center. As first reported by Crain’s Detroit Business, the acquisition encompasses three vacant buildings totaling nearly 31,000 square feet and a 0.8-acre surface parking lot. While the financial terms haven’t been disclosed, Crain’s said that the buyer was represented in the transaction by the Detroit office of CBRE Inc.

The largest and oldest asset in this bulk acquisition is the 12,700-square-foot structure sitting at 260 Schweizers Place that used to house the night club called Vondie’s on the River. The two-story building was constructed in 1885 and was previously owned by Handy Parking Inc.

The second building is located at 673 Franklin Street and has 9,600 square feet. According to Crain’s the 36-year-old building was previously owned by R.D. Franklin LLC and housed the Club Waterfall nightclub, McNarney’s Public House and a restaurant called Currents.

The third building that Riverfront Holdings purchased last month is an 8,400-square-foot  office structure located at 672 Woodbridge Street, while the surface parking lot is located at 689 Franklin Street between St. Antoine and Schweizers Place.

Another deal that recently made headlines involves Bedrock Real Estate Services, which reportedly acquired two mid-sized office buildings and a vacant lot in Detroit’s Capitol Park, adding more than 50,000 square feet to Dan Gilbert’s 8.2 million-square-foot real estate empire.

According to MLive.com, two of the properties—a six-story, 35,000-square-foot facility at 119 State Street and a five-story, 11,500-square-foot facility located at 45 W. Grand River Avenue—are in bad shape and will probably be redeveloped into retail buildings with apartments on the upper levels. The empty lot at 28 W. Grand River Avenue will be replaced by a new mixed-use building that will include apartments and ground floor retail space.


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Detroit Marriott Enters Last Chapter of Year-Long, $30 Million Renovation Process

28 May 2014, 4:22 pm

By Veronica Grecu, Associate Editor

The $30 million renovation project that kicked off earlier this year at the 1,329-room Detroit Marriott at the Renaissance Center is moving forward with a complex makeover of the hotel’s meeting space. This is the last phase of the year-long remodeling process and will encompass 100,000 square feet of space spanning three floors and 34 separate meeting rooms.

Detroit Marriott at the Renaissance Center

Detroit Marriott at the Renaissance Center

“We’re very excited to begin this next big step of a $30 million renovation that is an investment in the City of Detroit, as well as an investment in this Michigan landmark hotel,” said Shonda Johnson, area general manager of the Detroit Marriott at the Renaissance Center. “Our modernized, beautiful and more flexible meeting space will help draw more visitors and milestone events to our amazing city,” she added.

Estimated to be completed in December, this chapter in Marriott RenCen’s renovation will also be done in phases, enabling group functions to continue without disruption, and will focus on enhancing the conference spaces’ functionality and aesthetics, the hotel’s officials announced. Also included in this phase is the two-level concierge lounge located on the 56th and 57th floors which will be refurbished and reconfigured to resemble an automobile showroom.

Nicknamed Marriott RenCen, the 71-story hotel in Downtown Detroit is the tallest building in the city and the tallest all-hotel skyscraper in the Western Hemisphere. The landmark hotel was completed in 1977 and stands as the central tower in a group of seven interconnected skyscrapers known as The Renaissance Center. The Class A office complex was built for the Henry Ford Motor Company by New York-based Tishman Construction under plans designed by John Portman & Associates.

In 1996 the 5.5 million-square-foot mega-property was purchased by General Motors to serve as the company’s global headquarters. The 14-acre, Class A office center is one of the largest commercial complexes in the world. A veritable “city within a city,” it includes a shopping center, restaurants, banks, private clubs and a movie theater and even has its own zip code, 48243—housing more than 5,000 GM workers and 4,000 center tenant employees.


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Image via Marriott

Quicken Loans Starts Construction on 66,000 Sq. Ft. Technology/Data Center Outside Detroit’s CBD

22 May 2014, 1:52 pm

By Veronica Grecu, Associate Editor

Quicken Loans Technology Center - Corktown, Detroit

Quicken Loans Technology Center – Corktown, Detroit

The site of a former industrial building sitting at the corner of Rosa Parks Boulevard and Porter Street in the Corktown neighborhood of Detroit is being redeveloped into a new technology center by online mortgage lender Quicken Loans Inc. and its affiliate Bedrock Real Estate Services LLC.

According to Crain’s Detroit Business, in November 2013 the 38,000-square-foot industrial warehouse located at 1401 Rosa Parks was acquired for $625,000 by Dan Gilbert, the founder and chairman of Quicken Loans who owns around 8 million square feet of real estate space in Detroit, ­through his real estate investment arm Rock ventures LLC. Reportedly, the single-story property was occupied by two tenants at the moment of sale—the Great American Truck Driving School and Concrete Cutting Co. —but the companies left the building shortly after the deal was closed.

The 66,000-square-foot Quicken Loans Technology Center is scheduled to open in January 2015 and will serve as a data center and office complex. Set to become Dan Gilbert’s first development project located outside Detroit’s Central Business District, the state-of-the-art technology center also marks Bedrock’s second ground-up development in the city after the Z Garage facility.

The concrete and glass structure was designed by Integrated Design Solutions of Troy with Turner Construction Co. in charge of construction, according to Crain’s. The technology center will include 10,000 square feet of server rooms featuring next-generation air conditioning systems to cool the servers, as well as training, office and support space. A news release by Quicken Loans states that half of the data center will be occupied by the company’s technology staff, while the remaining 33,000 square feet in the building will be available for lease when the center opens next January.

“Developing real estate that meets the needs of our family of companies and our tenants in the city of Detroit is our top priority at Bedrock,” said Jim Ketai, Bedrock Real Estate Services CEO and managing partner. “This is also a great opportunity for another top technology company to secure prime server and training space in Detroit,” he added.

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Rendering via Quicken Loans

Opus Group Breaks Ground on 13-Story Luxury Housing Building in Ann Arbor

14 May 2014, 4:22 pm

By Veronica Grecu, Associate Editor

Minnesota-based Opus Group and private investor Dennis Tice, who owns the Pizza House in Ann Arbor’s South University District, have teamed up to develop a new student housing high-rise near the University of Michigan campus.

ArborBLU - luxury student housing

ArborBLU – luxury student housing

Construction at ArborBLU is scheduled to break ground on May 15, roughly five months after the Ann Arbor Planning Commission and City Council approved the partnership’s plans to build a 13-story apartment structure atop the two-story restaurant which is located at 618 Church Street. As reported by MLive.com, two adjacent low-rise buildings—located at 624 Church Street and 1117 Willard Street, respectively—will be demolished to make room for the 83,807-square-foot residential tower.

Marketed as “University of Michigan’s newest luxury student housing” building, ArborBLU will be ready for occupancy in August 2015, just in time for the fall semester. According to Opus, the project was designed by J. Bradley Moore & Associates with Opus AE Group, LLC serving as the architect of record.

Estimated to cost around $17 million and projected to achieve LEED Silver certification, the luxury tower will have 123 urban loft-style apartments totaling 232 beds, offering a combination of one-, two- and three-bedroom units. Amenities at ArborBLU will include a fitness studio on the second floor, study space, a rooftop lounge, bike storage, Wi-Fi access, in-house tanning  and free 24-hour delivery from Pizza House.

MLive.com also reveals that Opus and the Ann Arbor Downtown Development Authority negotiated a parking agreement that will allow tenants and a number of Pizza House employees to use nearly 50 spaces from the parking garage on nearby Forest Avenue which is jointly owned by the city and the University of Michigan. According to Ann Arbor’s policies, the developer is allowed to lease parking spaces in the public garage for an initial period of 15 years followed by three five-year extension options.

Click here for more market data from the Detroit area.

Rendering of ArborBLU courtesy of The Opus Group

GM Breaks Ground on New Race Development Center in Pontiac

7 May 2014, 8:16 pm

By Veronica Grecu, Associate Editor

GM Performance and Racing Center - Pontiac MI

GM Performance and Racing Center – Pontiac MI

More than one year after announcing a $200 million investment to build a new 138,000-square-foot test wing in suburban Detroit, General Motors broke ground on a race engine design and development facility at its world powertrain headquarters in Pontiac, MI, the company announced recently.

The GM Performance and Racing Center (GMPRC) will also include an electric motor laboratory and gear center. The state-of-the-art facility is expected to continue to develop the most successful race engines for Chevrolet and Cadillac, while connecting its race engineers with GM’s global powertrain engineering teams to come up with more efficient and durable powertrains.

According to information from the motor company, the 85,000-square-foot GMPRC will become operational in mid-2015, when around 100 engineers and technicians from GM’s race engineering center in Wixom, MI, are expected to relocate to the new facility. At full build-out in early 2016, the new performance and racing center will employ 400 people coming from GM’s soon-to-be-closed facilities in Michigan (Warren), Indiana (Castleton) and California (Torrance)

“The GM Performance and Racing Center will serve as a resource to help our race teams and drivers continue to win races and championships,” said Jim Campbell, U.S. vice president, Performance Vehicles and Motorsports, in a press statement. “It will also help advance technical sharing between racing and production engine programs,” he added.

Located at 777 Joslyn Avenue in Pontiac, the 450,000-square-foot GM Powertrain World Headquarters is one of the largest and most technically advanced powertrain development centers in the world. The center brings together more than 3,500 employees working on the design and development of engines, transmissions, hybrid and electric powertrains, and fuel cell technologies.

Meanwhile, GM is currently working on its second supercomputing facility in Metro Detroit which is expected to open officially in about two months. Construction at the GM Milford Proving Ground data center began in May 2013, shortly after the first facility opened in Warren. Totaling $546 million in equipment and infrastructure investment, the two data centers will oversee the company’s IT operations globally while ensuring a smarter and faster work environment.

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Rendering courtesy of General Motors

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