Ad agency aims to bring up to 1,000 workers to vacant downtown Detroit building

Louis Aguilar
The Detroit News

Detroit  — The world's largest advertising company plans to move up to 1,000 jobs, which includes relocating 850 Dearborn workers, by late 2020 into a vacant downtown building. 

London-based WPP PLC said in a release the historic Marquette Building, a 10-story building at the corner of West Congress and Washington, will be its new "Detroit campus." 

Marquette building, 243 W. Congress at Washington

"The Detroit Campus will accommodate up to 1,000 of WPP’s people, bringing together its agencies in the city including GTB, VMLY&R, Burrows, Hudson Rouge, Iconmobile, Xaxis and Zubi. They will work with WPP’s largest client, Ford Motor Company, as well as other clients," according to Tuesday's release.

Among the 1,000 workers that could end up in Detroit are 850 employees currently based in Dearborn, according to a document by the Michigan Strategic Fund, which is part of the state's economic development agency. WPP says it will retain "a presence" in Dearborn where it operates out of the Corporate Crossings at Fairlane, the press release said, but it did not provide details of what will remain at the Dearborn location.

The company plans $19.2 million in improvements to the interior of the Detroit building, according to the state document. On Tuesday, the Michigan Strategic Fund board approved a $1.65 million grant for the move. The grant was approved to WPP's firm GTB.

In addition, the city of Detroit has offered the ad agency a personal property tax abatement for up to 10 years, with an estimated value of $922,961, according to the state document. 

WPP will lease nine floors of the Marquette, 243 West Congress. It's across the street from the TCF Center (formerly Cobo Center). 

On Tuesday, the Michigan Strategic Fund board approved a $1.65 million grant for the move.

 “As the renewal of Detroit accelerates, we hope to become a destination for creative thinkers and innovators, contributing to job growth and diversification in the market while advancing the goals of our clients, ” said  Mark Read, CEO of WPP. 

The Marquette Building has gone through various owners this past decade. In 2015, it was bought for $5.8 million by an entity linked to Mexican billionaire Carlos Slim Helu, who is one of the wealthiest people in the world.

In 2016, it was bought by automotive seat supplier Adient, which planned to make the building its headquarters. Adient scrapped its plans in 2018 and never moved into the building. Adient sold the building in fall 2018 to its current owners, an entity linked to Detroit-based Sterling Group.

Twitter: @LouisAguilar_DN