“Say nice things about Detroit” has been a common refrain throughout the city since the 1970s, plastered on bumper stickers and T-shirts touted by tourists and locals alike. And it’s a sentiment its proud denizens uphold: As one of the biggest victims of the Great Recession, Detroit has had to work twice as hard to get back to its prior economic levels. To say the city bounced back doesn’t do it justice: Its resurgence in recent years is the byproduct of time, money, and emotional investment from both long-term residents and newcomers, who are equally invested in the city and the people as they are their businesses.
The city has undergone many manifestations since its early 18th-century founding as a French settlement. In 1896, native son Henry Ford was testing his first automobile in the streets of Detroit, setting the stage for what would eventually become Motor City. By 1925, Ford is joined by other car manufacturers as Chrysler and General Motors, all of whom are spread throughout the greater Michigan area. But Detroit itself is where the auto industry is booming: By 1950, the city’s population was the fourth in the nation at nearly 2 million, and the manufacturing industry boasted almost 300,000 jobs. In 1959, Motown records is founded. Thanks to visionary Berry Gordy, Detroit became Hitsville USA, with Motown musicians like the Supremes, the Jackson 5, and the Temptations altering the sounds of popular music across the nation.
But the postwar period also harkened a future economic depression: Thanks to changes in technology and consumer needs, major companies like Packard and Studebaker shuttered their doors, along with hundreds of smaller companies scattered throughout the city.
Over the next two decades, racial riots and increases in gasoline prices threw the city into a series of crises. By 2011, unemployment in Detroit was at 20%, and by 2013, the city had declared bankruptcy. The auto industry – the major phenomenon that effectively built and helped shape the middle class as we know it – needed government bailouts.
But things have turned around in the past five years. Ford Motor Company recently announced its return to the city of Detroit, riding on a wave of optimism that has colored a slow but steady return to economic success.
There’s a burgeoning tech scene, perhaps best epitomized by Ambassador. The company – which helps businesses leverage their customers’ word-of-mouth as referrals in order to support growth – was started by a Detroit native, who favored a returned to his hometown over expansion in the obvious choice of Silicon Valley. The room for growth, along with the perks of a lower cost of living, have catapulted the company to top tiers in employment satisfaction: Ambassador is consistently ranked as one of the best places to work, nationwide.
Detroiters are proud of their sports. The city is home to four professional sports teams: The NFL’s Detroit Lions, the MLB’s Tigers, the NBA’s Pistons, and the NHL’s Red Wings.
Detroit is extremely friendly to small businesses, thanks to supportive ventures like Motor City Match, a partnership between the city and economic development institutions, that’s dedicated to providing grants that make small-scale, local growth possible. Saying nice things about Detroit is easy, thanks to residents and entrepreneurs who are welcoming and receptive to industrial change.
Detroit Office Space | Lease Data & Trends:
The average Detroit office space costs under $20 per square foot to lease, with units in Class A buildings exceeding that, at over $24 per square foot. There is nearly 20 million square feet of Class A office space in Detroit. Prices are expected to increase, as vacancies show trends of dropping, and demand remains very high in the Downtown area.
For businesses looking for slightly more affordable options, there’s nearly 40 million square feet of Class B office space in Detroit, with an average asking rate of $18 per square foot.
Of the more than 700,000 square feet in development, all of it is Class A assets.
Detroit Office Space for Rent | Popular Neighborhoods
With its 14 neighborhoods and massive employment force (over 90,000 workers, or about one-fifth of the city’s total employment base), Downtown Detroit is the Central Business District of the entire Motor City. Downtown counts the Financial District, Greektown, and the Capitol Park Historic District within its borders.
Looking for museums in Detroit? You’ve come to the right place in Midtown, where art meets history amid scenic architecture and world-renowned institutions. This is also where the bulk of Wayne University has its campus. Little Caesars Arena is here, too, as is one of the city’s unblemished gems, the Detroit Institute of the Arts.
Everything old is new again – in New Center, once known as home to General Motors in the Cadillac Palace, is today a desirable locale for companies seeking prime offices with history at affordable rates. New Center also counts the HQs to the city’s own luxury manufacturer, Shinola.
Home to Henry Ford, Dearborn landed on the map when it became the world headquarters of Ford Motor Company in the early 20th century. Today, that Ford presence lives on (see: The Henry Ford), but new residents have given Dearborn a decidedly modern flavor. Small, family-owned shops and restaurants are de rigueur.
Look north to Southfield for upscale businesses that were spared the worst of the Great Recession. Of the over 10,000 businesses spread through the city’s 27 square miles, more than 100 are Fortune 500 companies.
Well-heeled residents are well catered to in Troy, which counts the posh Somerset Collection Mall in its borders. As a whole, Troy is second only to Detroit in terms of highest cumulative property value in Michigan.
Getting to, From, and Around Detroit
While a car is often the easiest way to get around Detroit – this is, after all, motor city – there are alternative options for transportation. The city has its own bike-sharing program, MoGo, which has over 40 stations and counting.
The light-rail system also provides extensive connections throughout the greater Detroit region. In the expansive Downtown area, the Detroit People Mover connects almost three miles around the city.
The city train station, the Michigan Central Station (MCS) is located in the Corktown district, near the Ambassador Bridge. It’s situated behind Roosevelt Park, which serves as an entryway to the station. The Roosevelt Warehouse is adjacent to its east; there is also a tunnel connection to the MCS. The station was added to the National Register of Historic Places in 1975.
The Detroit airport is essentially a destination in itself: the McNamara Terminal counts two relaxation locations, and the Westin connects to a fitness studio with a nearby security checkpoint. The airport is the primary gateway to fly to Asia from the eastern United States for Delta Airlines; on a whole, the airport serves flights to over 140 destinations.