Transwestern Awarded Leasing, Management of 2.2 MSF Office Complex in Detroit

Two months after the $177.5 million sale of the five-building, 2.2 million-square-foot Southfield Town Center in Michigan, Transwestern has been retained to lease and manage the trophy office property in the Detroit metro area.

Southfield

Two months after the $177.5 million sale of the five-building, 2.2 million-square-foot Southfield Town Center in Michigan, Transwestern has been retained to lease and manage the trophy office property in the Detroit metro area.

New York-based 601W Cos. bought the office complex from Blackstone Group L.P. in early May. The complex is currently 68 percent leased with several contiguous blocks of space available. Current tenants include Fifth Third Bank, AlixPartners, Microsoft and Brooks & Kushman, according to the Detroit Free Press.

“This assignment is a monumental win for Transwestern,” Mike Watts, Transwestern’s Midwest president said in the release. “Our existing team in Detroit has laid a solid foundation, and this assignment will allow us to expand and enhance that team.

The firm has added two professionals to lead the leasing team: Clarence Gleeson II, senior vice president, and Jason Dutcher, associate. Both joined Transwestern from CBRE. Transwestern, which retained the existing property management group, has also added a construction management specialist.

The new owners plan to spend between $40 million and $50 million on renovations at the complex in the Southfield submarket, according to JLL’s Office Insight Detroit Q2 2014 report. The JLL report said improvements would focus on issues such as lobbies and elevators, particularly at 3000 Town Center.

“Some of that capital will also be used for build-out incentives to attract tenants,” the JLL report stated. “With the improvements, 601W looks to increase occupancy to the mid- to upper-80s over a five-year period.”

“We’re very excited to take part in this opportunity to further enhance a trophy property in the Detroit area,” Bill Harvey, senior vice president & head of Transwestern’s Detroit office, said in a news release. “With the economic acceleration, businesses in Michigan are expanding again, and we fully expect to maintain and elevate Southfield Town Center’s position as the iconic office landmark in metro Detroit.”

Harvey told Commercial Property Executive that architects were working on plans for the renovations.

“We have a new owner that is committed to the lease-up and to do what it takes,” Harvey added.

He said some of the largest blocks of space are in 3000 Town Center, a 32-story, 583,000-square-foot building that is the tallest of the five office towers.

“3000 Town Center is 42 percent leased now. We could put a large block of space together in that building,” Harvey noted.

He said several different potential tenants are already looking at the larger blocks of space available in the complex.

“Detroit in general is seeing a great resurgence in business,” Harvey told CPE. “We’re just making sure we capture it again.”

The JLL office market report supports Harvey’s assessment.

“Total vacancy has continued to decline since hitting a record high of 29.2 percent in the first quarter of 2011. With an improving economy and increasing space needs by office tenants, total vacancy is expected to continue its downward trend through 2014,” the report stated.

The overall market direct vacancy rate was 25.4 percent for the second quarter and the total vacancy rate was 26 percent, according to JLL. The report also notes that rents are expected to “increase modestly” over the next year. With no new office development under construction or planned, “demand growth will continue to translate almost entirely into vacancy improvements.”