Microsoft Helps Boost Detroit’s Tech Neighborhood

Advancing Detroit’s reputation as a burgeoning technology cluster, Microsoft has committed to setting up shop at the M@dison Building, Rock Ventures’ five-story office building that serves as the anchor of the M@dison Block, the city’s high-tech entrepreneurial corridor.

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Advancing Detroit’s reputation as a burgeoning technology cluster, Microsoft has committed to setting up shop at the M@dison Building, Rock Ventures L.L.C.’s five-story office building that serves as the anchor of the M@dison Block, the city’s high-tech entrepreneurial corridor.

Carrying the address of 1555 Broadway St., the M@dison is a 50,000-square-foot structure that was originally developed in 1917. It was in 2011 when Rock Ventures acquired the property, then the abandoned site of the Madison Theatre, and commenced a $12 million comprehensive renovation that transformed the building into a state-of-the-art office destination maintaining many of its original architectural features.

Bedrock Real Estate Services, a Rock Ventures entity, orchestrated the lease agreement, which was signed just last week. Microsoft will use the space at the building to house operations of Microsoft Ventures, a global initiative designed to spur entrepreneurial development of startups. The tech giant won’t be lonely in the diminutive structure; the M@dison’s tenant roster features more than 25 businesses, including Twitter and Detroit Venture Partners, a venture capital firm specializing in funding early-stage technology businesses. And Google has a home on the M@dison Block, too.

Detroit’s tech training institute, Grand Circus, facilitated the alliance with Microsoft Ventures.

“It is a great indicator for our community that Microsoft sees the value in the excitement, creativity and talent that is radiating out of the M@dison Block,” Damien Rocchi, CEO of Grand Circus, said in a prepared statement. “This partnership further cements the opportunities that exist for the tech industry in downtown Detroit and will continue to advance our tech hub.”

Detroit may not be synonymous with high-tech to some, but indeed, the city is a veritable player in the industry. According to Dice, a leading national career website for technology and engineering professionals, Detroit was one of the country’s top-five fastest growing cities in 2013, as measured by job postings on the website.