New Center, Detroit, the area located directly north of the greater Downtown Detroit district and five miles north of the Detroit River, is rich in history. What had long been the second industrial hub in the city—it grew significantly in the 1920s as a response to the established success in neighboring Downtown—has, in recent years, re-emerged as a desirable locale for companies seeking “good bones” to host their expansive endeavors into The D.
Once known for housing General Motors in the Cadillac Palace, today’s major tenants are a combination of state and public institutions, big name developers, and both emerging and established brands—most notably the city’s own luxury manufacturer, Shinola. Other prominent establishments include the Hotel St. Regis and the Henry Ford Hospital.
New Center, Detroit Office Space | Lease Data & Trends
With demands increasing in the greater Downtown area, the up-and-coming submarket of New Center is expected to catch up with rents and vacancy trends. As it stands, the New Center district has just under 1.5 million square feet of inventory, all of which is Class B space—there is currently no Class A commercial real estate in New Center. The direct vacancy rate of space in this area generally floats around 20%, on par with the citywide vacancy rate. Average asking rents are also similar to the citywide average—both figures sit at around $20 per square foot.
The landscape of New Center is expected to shift dramatically as momentum from redevelopments in nearby Midtown shift north towards the neighborhood, likely spurring further office space construction.
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The Fisher Building echoes with tales of tenants past and present. The ornate landmark skyscraper, which towers in the heart of New Center, is known as one of the major works of lauded local architect Albert Kahn. (Kahn is also the namesake for the nearby Kahn Building, the stylish former site of such glamorous occupants as Saks Fifth Avenue; in June of this year, it was announced that the Kahn Building was sold to developers, who plan to convert the building from office space to 200 apartments by mid-2019.)
Originally funded by the Fisher brothers using proceeds from the sale of Fisher Body to General Motors, the hallowed art deco halls of the Fisher Building were completed—replete with over 40 types of marble—in 1928, just before the Great Depression in 1929. Plans for expansion were never completed, but some 90 years later the building hasn’t lost its glamour. Today, the Detroit Public School headquarters is a tenant—other tenants include a variety of medical, law, and communication firms. The downstairs is still home to the Fisher Theatre, a live theater with more than 2000 seats; in the 1980s, the theater was designated a National Historic Landmark. Also downstairs are a number of local storefronts, restaurants, and cafes, which attract those who both work and play in the area.
Just across the way—or through the underground tunnel, depending on the weather—stands another storied building. The Cadillac Palace, formerly known as the General Motors building, is the past home of the manufacturing giant. GM moved its headquarters in 2001, and transferred ownership of the structure to New Center Development, Inc. Today, its office spaces are occupied by numerous Michigan state agencies, holding more than 2,000 State of Michigan employees.
When luxury goods brand Shinola Detroit was seeking its headquarters, the company landed on a 30,000-square-foot space in the Argonaut Building at the College for Creative Studies. Shinola leased and did extensive renovations to the fifth floor here, the former site of the GM Research Labs. The company also expanded by setting up an in-house leather factory. Out front stands one of the now-iconic street clocks, gifted by the brand to the city of Detroit in 2014.
New Center is a highly walkable nook of the city, with an 85 Walk Score. The greater area also has an excellent Bike Score of 83. Public transport is harder to come by, explaining the neighborhood’s relatively low Transit Score of 48. For those arriving from out-of-town destinations, there is an Amtrak station in the middle of New Center.
New Center is also the birthplace of the Milwaukee Junction, arguably the cradle of the Detroit auto industry. The area is entering a new heyday with developments from Detroit-based developer The Platform, LLC, which is developing a mixed-use revitalization project called the Baltimore Station.
The Henry Ford Hospital has nearly 900 beds in its sprawling complex. The hospital, which has been serving the greater Detroit region for over a century, is consistently ranked highly in hospital care, education, and research. The hospital is planning to expand with a new cancer center.
New Center is within walking distance of Wayne State University, making it ideal for companies looking to recruit talent from the campus’s renowned schools in biochemistry, biology, chemistry, and clinical medicine.
Get to Know New Center, Detroit
A bit more spread out than its neighbor Downtown Detroit, New Center is a mixture of concrete buildings, wide lawns, and emerging businesses. It draws visitors looking for an authentic slice of Detroit history, thanks to destinations like the Ford Avenue Piquette Plant and the Motown Museum. The former, where the Model T was created and produced, is now a museum with an impressive vintage automobile collection ranging from the first Ford models to other luxury and unique brands and makes. The Motown Museum, the first recording studio of both the musical movement and the label, draws music fans from all over.