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Firm to run Guardian Building for Wayne County

The Detroit News

Detroit — Wayne County officials announced agreements Monday to boost occupancy in the Guardian Building and turn management of the downtown skyscraper and two other county-owned properties over to a private company Aug. 1.

The Detroit Land Bank Authority will move its 90 employees into the Guardian early next month under a three-year lease, the county said in a news release. In addition, 400 Monroe Associates will take over management of the skyscraper plus the First Street Parking Garage and 511 Woodward under a two-year deal.

County officials say the agreements will provide $463,905 in yearly rental income and save the county $190,000 in annual management fees. Adding the land bank authority employees will boost the Guardian’s occupancy rate to 90 percent, the county said.

The land bank authority is moving its employees from Cadillac Tower under a three-year deal with the Wayne County Economic Development Corp.

County officials said the agreement with 400 Monroe does not affect its plans to possibly sell the Guardian Building, 511 Woodward Ave. and the parking garage. The 511 Woodward structure is a glass-walled building that runs between Congress and Larned. It’s adjacent to the Guardian, an Art Deco Gem at 500 Griswold St.

The agreements come a week after state officials confirmed that a financial emergency exists in Wayne County, which has a $52 million structural deficit.

The recurring shortfall in Michigan's most populous county stems from the underfunded pension system and a $100 million yearly drop in property tax revenue since 2008. Its accumulated deficit is $150 million.

“Securing these agreements, by themselves, are not the silver bullets that will solve our $52 million structural deficit,” Wayne County Executive Warren Evans said in a statement. “These agreements however, and the numerous other efforts we are making to implement our Recovery Plan and improve the trajectory of the County’s financial situation, will collectively make a difference.”

The Detroit News reported last week that aides to Gov. Rick Snyder have been talking to Quicken Loans’ Dan Gilbert about buying the Guardian and the county’s partly finished jail project site for roughly $150 million.