PricewaterhouseCoopers LLP announced this afternoon that it has signed a letter of intent to take over 70,000 square feet of space in One DetroitCenter and move out of its current location near Ford Field.
David Breen, managing director of PWC’s greater Michigan market, said the move of more than 650 employees is expected in December.
“We don’t have a lease; we have a letter of intent, so dates may change,” he said.
Breen said the move is being driven by the firm’s emphasis nationally on more open and collaborative work spaces, by a lower lease rate and because of the building of a new Wayne County jail directly across the street from PWC’s current headquarters.
“Recruiting is important to us, and having a jail across the street certainly doesn’t help. You know what they say, “Location, location, location,’ ” Breen told Crain’s. “Having a jail there was certainly a factor.”
Losing PWC is a blow to for the 106,000-square-foot Madison Office Building, owned by Etkin Equities LLC of Southfield. Etkin declined to comment on the PWC move.
PWC moved into there in December 2005 and was the first tenant in the building. For years, it was the only tenant. PWC occupied 85,000 square feet on the first four floors and had an option on the fifth floor, which it never exercised.
In 2010, an engineering firm, Sigma Associates Inc., took over 11,700 square feet on the fifth floor.
The pending move by PWC marks another victory for One Detroit Center after picking up the Caret unit of the London-based advertising firm Aegis Group several months ago. The firm does ad buying for General Motors Co.
The 960,000-square-foot building has struggled since Comerica Bank left its 285,000 square feet in the building. Tuesday night, the now Dallas-based bank celebrated the grand opening at its new Michigan headquarters at 441 W. Lafayette.
Before the PWC lease, One Detroit Center’s occupancy was 38 percent, according to the Washington, D.C.-based CoStar Group Inc.
Breen said PWC started looking for a new Michigan headquarters last fall, both downtown and in the suburbs.
He said PWC will take up most of three floors. “It’ll be high up. Somewhere in the 30s,” Breen said. “It’s a beautiful building, one of the best built buildings in Detroit, and we’re excited about it. We’ll be able to accommodate more people in less space in a more open and more collaborative atmosphere.”
Breen said he looked at three of Dan Gilbert’s office buildings in downtown Detroit.
“I would have loved to move into one of his buildings, but we couldn’t make the new open footprint work,” he said. “We looked at a couple of suburban buildings that would have loved to have us, but we’re committed to Detroit, and staying downtown was very important.”
Tom Henderson & Dan Duggan, Crain’s Detroit