What's the Future of Detroit's RenCen? Depends Who's Talking and How You Read the Tea Leaves.

May 29, 2024, 10:28 PM by  Allan Lengel


There's plenty of sports analogies applicable to the Renaissance Center, the multi-tower building on the river that was completed in 1974. It was supposed to be a symbol of Detroit's comeback after the 1967 rebellion.

Now, let's turn to the Detroit Tigers' Spencer Torkelson and Javier Baez,  both promising players who have not lived up to their expectations. That's pretty much what you can say about the RenCen. It simply fell short of what Henry Ford II expected when he pushed idea and got business leaders onboard.

The daunting structure, which seemed to be in trouble, and less of a desired destination than expected, was saved when General Motors in the mid-1990s bought the building for pennies on the dollar and moved its headquarters from W. Grand Blvd. in the New Center area to the RenCen.

Now it's in trouble again. Recently, GM announced that it will move its shrinking headquarters next year from the RenCen to Dan Gilbert's Hudson's Detroit building on Woodward. It will become the anchor tenant and reportedly occupy a couple floors.

As part of that deal, Gilbert has worked out at agreement with GM in which he'll see what he can do to  repurpose the building.

GM CEO Mary Barra has said they're exploring possibilties but have not ruled out razing the building. 

Gilbert said at the Mackinac Policy Conference on Wednesday that the future of the building is up in the air.

Detroit Mayor Mike Duggan at the conference said he hopes to save the RenCen.

He said he's in talks with Barra and Gilbert on how to repurpose the office towers and promised a future plan will be in place before GM jumps ship next year, according to Nolan Finley of the Detroit News.

"I lobbied to get Dan Gilbert involved because I think the Renaissance Center is an international symbol of Detroit," Duggan said in an interview Wednesday at the conference, Finley writes.  "Nobody knows more about repurposing old buildings than he does."

So there you have it. Nobody knows for sure what the future is.

Ditto for Spencer Torkelson and Javier Baez.

Both the RenCen and those two players could be around for a while in Detroit, or be history, sooner than later. 

The big question is: Who would miss those players or the RenCen? 

Leave a Comment:

Photo Of The Day