By TOM KRISHER, AP Auto Writer
NEW YORK (AP) — General Motors will retain its headquarters in its seven-tower office complex in downtown Detroit, its CEO said.
Mary Barra, in an interview with The Associated Press, said the automaker’s main office will remain in the Renaissance Center, the centerpiece of the city’s skyline just across the Detroit River from Canada. .
“Our headquarters will always be in Detroit, RenCen,” she said, using the name given to the resort by locals. “Right now the plan is for it to be at the Renaissance Center. It’s our home,” she said.
Barra qualified her remarks, saying she cannot predict what will happen in five, 10 or 15 years.
She also said the company needs to look at its space needs now that many white-collar workers are staying home for much of the work week on a hybrid home-office schedule.
The company occupies about 1 1/2 of RenCen’s towers, which have seen little foot traffic for years. Much of GM’s workforce, including product development and engineering, is located north of town in a renovated 1950s Engineering Center in suburban Warren. After GM went bankrupt in 2009, the company considered moving the headquarters there.
“As we move to a more hybrid work structure, we need to consider what the right space is,” Barra said.
GM is still evaluating whether the hybrid model is viable for those who can do their jobs remotely. Like many CEOs, Barra wonders if working from home will still enable collaboration and reinforce a company culture. “There are huge benefits to being in the office,” she said. “I think we need to make sure we have the right balance between collaboration and interaction to make sure that in two, three, four, five years we will still maintain the culture that we think is so important to the company,” says -she.
Whether hybrid work is permanent, she said, depends on the company and the industry. At GM, people have gotten used to the flexibility of working from home. Although workers don’t need to be in the office at the same time every day, teams of workers do need time together, she said.
Barra also hinted that the company was exploring waterfront development opportunities with the city. The city is expanding a waterfront trail that will stretch from the south side of downtown to a bridge that connects to an island park called Belle Isle.
“I think the riverside is a gem,” Barra said. “The Riverwalk continues to be voted one of the best in the country. So if there are opportunities to improve this neighborhood and do the right thing for the city, we will.
The Renaissance Center was built by Henry Ford II, who formed a coalition in the 1970s with the goal of reinvigorating downtown Detroit. GM purchased the complex in 1996 and remodeled it, moving its headquarters there from an area north of downtown.
This story has been corrected to show that General Motors purchased the Renaissance Center in 1996.
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