Ally Financial moving to One Detroit Center

David Shepardson
Detroit News Washington Bureau

Ally Financial Inc., the Detroit-based auto lender and bank holding company is moving into One Detroit Center, the company confirmed Tuesday.

The landmark One Detroit Center office tower located at 500 Woodward is being acquired by a unit of Dan Gilbert’s Bedrock Real Estate Services — and will be renamed “Ally Detroit Center” under a 12-year lease.

Ally will move its current headquarters in the Renaissance Center as well as its other southeast Michigan offices into one unified Michigan headquarters. Ally says 1,300 employees will occupy 13 floors and 321,000 square feet in the center of Detroit’s burgeoning downtown business and technology district. In addition, Ally will employ approximately 200 independent third party contractors and vendors in the city of Detroit.

The deal is the result of “an unprecedented collaboration between Ally, the City of Detroit, and Bedrock Real Estate Services,” Ally said.

Ally Detroit Center is a 43-story, 1 million square foot skyscraper on Woodward between Congress and Larned. The building also has an attached parking garage with more than 2,000 spaces.

“Like the city of Detroit, Ally is continuing to evolve and build upon a strong heritage,” said Ally Chief Executive Officer Jeffrey J. Brown. “This is an exciting time for our company, and bringing all of our Southeast Michigan-based associates together in one impressive building in the heart of the city sets the stage for our next chapter, which will be rooted in innovation, creativity and a strong and vibrant culture. Detroit is now a city with a lot of vitality, a strong base of talent and an exciting future, thanks in large part to the efforts of Dan Gilbert and Mayor Duggan. We look forward to being a key corporate partner to them and the community.”

The company will relocate 700 team members currently working in Detroit to Ally Detroit Center along with an additional 600 team members from its four other Southeast Michigan locations beginning in the spring of 2016.

“Ally had many choices when deciding where to locate their long-term headquarters. But after careful consideration and deep analysis, the largest auto-lender in the nation chose downtown Detroit. Just like Fifth Third Bank, Meridian Health Plan, Blue Cross, Quicken Loans and many others, Ally chose the location that has the best energy, the best environment for innovation and creativity, and the location that will clearly attract the best and brightest talent; downtown Detroit,” said Dan Gilbert, Founder and Chairman of Rock Ventures and Quicken Loans. “It is becoming increasingly certain that the urban core of downtown Detroit is the place to be for businesses from large Fortune 500 companies to new economy high-tech start-ups and all kinds of businesses in between. What another exciting day for downtown Detroit and the entire region.”

The move also means Ally will get some distance from General Motors Co., its former parent, where it has its headquarters. Ally was previously known as GMAC, GM’s in-house lending arm.

“Ally Financial has been an important part of this community for decades,” added Mayor Mike Duggan. “We are pleased that such a significant stakeholder in our city will remain a central part of Detroit’s ongoing resurgence for years to come.”

Built in 1993, One Detroit Center is known as Detroit and Michigan’s tallest office building. The skyscraper, designed by noted architects John Burgee and Philip Johnson, has Flemish-inspired neo-gothic spires. A new 7,000 square foot Townhouse restaurant with an all-glass dining space and retractable roof is scheduled to open in the building this summer.

Other major tenants include PricewaterhouseCoopers, several law firms including Clark Hill, Dickinson Wright, Foley & Lardner, and Kerr, Russell and Weber, the Police and Fire and General Retirement Systems of the city of Detroit, and many other important and growing office tenants.

“We can’t wait to welcome the Ally team to their new home at One Detroit Center,” said Jim Ketai, managing partner and CEO of Bedrock Real Estate Services. “This deal enabled us to match a top Michigan corporation with one of the city’s premier commercial properties. We look forward to a long and successful future together.”

The Detroit Downtown Development Authority met ahead of the announcement to keep Detroit-based Ally in one larger Detroit building.

Tom Lewand, Detroit’s group executive for jobs and the economy, announced during the meeting that Ally had agreed to a 12-year, 9-month lease for 321,000 square feet. The investment is believed to be worth $50 million.

Ally said in January it was considering consolidating its five locations in Metro Detroit to a single location. Ally has about 700 people working in Detroit, along with 300 at the Southfield Town Center and Galleria in addition to employees in Troy and Auburn Hills. Ideally, Ally would be housed in one space, said CEO Brown.

Brown had said Feb. 19 that he expected to decide in the next 30-60 days whether Ally will stay in Detroit or move its headquarters to the suburbs. Brown became CEO in February.

The change came weeks after the U.S. Treasury in December ended its historic six-year intervention into the U.S. auto industry, as it sold its remaining 11.4 percent stake in Ally as part of its $17.2 billion bailout. Ally is General Motors Co.’s former finance and mortgage unit GMAC.

Taxpayers recovered more money than they injected into the bailout of Ally, but in accounting terms the government still booked a loss on the Ally bailout. The Treasury department recovered $19.6 billion, including dividends; that’s roughly $2.4 billion more than the original $17.2 billion bailout.

At one point the government owned a 74 percent majority stake in Ally. In late 2008, the Federal Reserve agreed to grant Ally — then GMAC — bank-holding company status so it could qualify for loans under the Wall Street and auto rescue program. Ally got two additional bailouts totaling $17.2 billion, and Treasury tapped Ally to be the primary lender for both GM and Chrysler.

Since then, GM acquired its own lending arm, GM Financial. Chrysler has a deal with Santander Consumer USA. Ally operates a profitable online bank called Ally Bank.

Staff writer Candice Williams contributed.