The GM Renaissance Center: A Monument to Black-Run America

The GM Renaissance Center: A monument to the folly of Black-Run America (BRA). Notice the Joe Louis Statue to the left of the picture, a symbol built for Black power by Detroit’s Black political elite

Reading Steve Rattner’s Overhaul: An Insider’s Account of the Obama Administration’s Emergency Rescue of the Auto Industry  brought about a politically explosive revelation.
GM, the company that was bailed out with your tax-dollars through the Troubled Asset Relief Program (TARP), is headquartered in the GM Renaissance Center (RenCen), which at 73 stories is the tallest building in Detroit. Built in 1977 as part of the effort to revitalize the downtown area amid growing urban decay after the disastrous Black Riots of 1967 led to the abandonment of the city by white people (white flight had rebuilt Detroit in the suburbs, with the remaining Black population under Mayor Coleman Young busy bringing ruination to what was left behind), the Renaissance Center complex never lived up to its name. Built for $350 million, but sold for a mere $76 million to GM in 1996 – The New York Times reported there were absolutely no takers at $125 million – was an abysmal failure from the start.
The Mackinac Center reports:

Indeed, the $350 million (in 1970s dollars) “Renaissance” Center was supposed to anchor Detroit’s revival. According to The Detroit News, on unveiling a plaque dedicated to the building’s private financiers, Henry Ford II (who conceived the Center) said, “Detroit has reached the bottom and is on its way back up.” 

In 1996, the Center was sold to General Motors for just $76 million, a fraction of what it cost to build. It is difficult to overcome the message such a return on investment sends to entrepreneurs and other investors. The failure of the Renaissance Center to generate an actual renaissance in the Motor City should have undermined municipal leaders’ faith in the power of big symbols.

Before GM was bailed out by the government – well, by you, the tax payer – there was talk of a possible merger between Chrysler and GM, which Maura Webber Sadovi reported on in the October 29, 2008 issue of The Wall Street Journal:

When the hulking complex now known as the GM Renaissance Center was conceived in the wake of Detroit’s 1967 riots, civic and business leaders hoped its construction along the Detroit River would help revive the city’s downtown. These days it’s the battered General Motors Corp. that is looking at the cluster of towers as a potential financial lifeline. The cash-strapped auto maker wants to unlock its equity in the five Renaissance Center towers it owns, which boast millions of square feet of office space, GM’s headquarters, movie theaters and a hotel, says Dan Flores, a GM spokesman. GM this month asked a city pension fund to refinance the property and is alternatively considering finding an interested investor to buy it from whom GM would then lease space, Mr. Flores says. The board of the Police and Fire Retirement System of the City of Detroit has no plans to pursue GM’s refinancing proposal, says Walter Stampor, executive secretary of the Retirement Systems of the City of Detroit. GM earlier this year spent about $626 million to pay off its debt on the property, according to Mr. Flores. 

The potential sale of one of Detroit’s most prominent properties comes as area building owners have taken cold comfort in knowing they already have been tested by high vacancy rates and falling rents, challenges that are new to many of their counterparts in healthier U.S. markets just now facing slowing demand. 

Recently that equanimity has begun to evaporate as the increasingly tenuous state of the U.S. car makers that drive demand for the Motor City’s property is emerging. Even a potential merger of GM and Chrysler LLC — while viewed by some as a better scenario for the ailing Detroit-area economy — would likely result in a flood of surplus properties.

Without TARP and the bailout of GM, what would have happened to Detroit, a city that already relies on federal aid and federal subsidies just to pay the bills and keep its 89 percent Black population feed, housed, and semi-educated?
Could the passing of TARP have been the last gasp of the federal government to keep Detroit on life support, considering that the GM Renaissance Center is now has a 93 percent occupancy rate? With Urban Pioneering on the rise in Detroit – and with the impending takeover of the city’s finances by the state of Michigan – could we actually see a renaissance in Detroit that looked oh so bleak back in 2008?
As stated, Overhaul reported this conversation between Fredrick “Fritz” Henderson, then COO, about the possibility of moving from the GM Renaissance Center to a suburban location. On p. 237-238:

The politics around GM, with its great size and complexity, not mention its iconic status, promised to be even more intense. Our loving to-do list was full of pitfalls. One day Fritz called me to propose moving GM headquarters from the Renaissance Center to GM’s Tech Center in suburban Warren, where we had driven the Volt back in March. 

The move would cuts costs, he said, as well as symbolize the leadership’s determination to become more to down-to-earth and hands-on. I thought the idea was great, just the kind of action I was hoping to see from Fritz. But when I described it to Deese , he went nuts. “Are you out of your mind?” he said. “Think what it would do to Detroit.” 

Though small in financial implications for the company – the headquarters was worth perhaps $165 million – compared to the $626 million that GM had paid for it just a year earlier (Sic … GM would spend only $76 million to buy the building in 1996, but spend $500 million renovating the complex) – GM’s departure would be a major blow to Detroit. In a one-year period, the once proud city was already suffering with one of the worst unemployment rates in the country, and among the worst murder rates, would see two of its biggest employers go bankrupt, its flamboyant ex-mayor Kwame Kilpatrick convicted of perjury, and its NFL franchise, the Detroit Lions, become the first in football history to go 0-16. 

Deese had some people analyze what a mostly vacant RenCen would mean to Detroit real estate. The estimate: a double-digit hit on already deflated real estate prices. Fritz proposed donating the RenCen to the city- though who actually use it was unknown. 

The debate, not surprisingly, soon moved beyond Team Auto. Gene Sperling was one of the many to fight the move. “It’s over for Detroit if you do this,” he yelled in a meeting at [The United States] Treasury. “Don’t do this to Dave Bing” – the city’s new mayor, a former NBA star and successful auto-supplier entrepreneur. “He’s a good man trying to do a good thing.” The city relied on GM for $20 million a year in tax revenue, Gene pointed out, and the blowback would be fierce. Deese checked with Larry, who in turn spoke to Rahm [Emmanuel], and word came down that the move would be a bridge too far. 

Fortunately, this unique intervention into a specific GM matter was never leaked to the press, saving us from having to explain how it comported with our policy of letting GM and Chrysler manage their own affairs.

Mayor David Bing is poised to ask for an emergency $150 million from the state of Michigan (white taxpayers) instead of being taken over by the financial martial law imposed by the state. GM management wanted to find ways to restructure instead of taking the TARP money (what amounted to a government take-over of GM), and considered heading to the lily-white suburbs.
The government of America (and corporate America) is dedicated to the idea of Black-Run America (BRA), and abandoning America’s Black Metropolis would have been disastrous and against official operating procedure.
Forcing GM to stay based in Detroit, at the Renaissance Center, was the government’s way of mandating the continuation of BRA. Funny that only a year later more than 30,000 Black people would line up in the streets of Detroit after a “rumor” of Obama stimulus checks being based out went viral.
The Renaissance Center was always a mistake – like the hilarious People Mover transit system in downtown Detroit, which can only be compared to the Monorail in Springfield from The Simpson’s in terms of its absolute superfluous nature and financially wasteful manner- and the government forcing GM to remain in this monument to “wishful thinking” is a reminder of the power of BRA.
In the book “The Rough Road to Renaissance: Urban Revitalization in America, 1940 -1985” John C. Teaford describes for us the failure of the Renaissance Center on p. 271-272:

Even when by all objective standard a downtown office project proved a failure, messiah mayors and their booster allies could use their ample powers of hype and transform it into a symbol of success. For example, Detroit’s mammoth Renaissance Center was both the city’s most noteworthy debacle and its most ballyhooed landmark of revitalization. When it opened in 1977, with 2.2 million feet of office space and a 73-story hotel, the Detroit Free Press described it as “the towering symbol of what is hoped to be Detroit’s new lease on life.” At the lavish dedication ceremony with free champagne for all 800 people present, its principal developer, Henry Ford II, was confident of the invigorating qualities of the center, claiming that it and other construction projects were indications “that the flow of business and commercial operations to the suburbs {had} slowed down very considerably and might well be in the process of reversing itself.
 In his 1979 state of the city address, Mayor Coleman Young similarly asserted, “The Renaissance Center has led the way in bringing our down area back.” 

In fact, the center drew tenants from existing downtown office buildings, the main target of the rental agent’s sales pitch being firms already located in the central business district. Thus, by 1978 the occupancy rate of the 47-story Cadillac Tower was down to 40 percent, and its woes were not unusual. Moreover, the Renaissance Center itself suffered serious financial ills, losing $140 million by 1983, when its debt and ownership had to be restructured.

A towering, gleaming beaming does not by osmosis make the city’s primarily Black inhabitants budding entrepreneurs. Worse, Ford’s prediction was grossly inaccurate: the government of the United States would stop GM from abandoning Detroit in 2008 as the companies stewards tried to find ways to reinvent the corporation.
E. Michael Jones notes in his book “Slaughter of the Cities” that the RenCen project required the largest private investment group ever assembled for an American real-estate venture. “Financing involved a $200 million loan from a consortium of banks and insurance companies as well as at least $300 million from the Ford Motor Company.” (p. 599)
Without a doubt, the RenCen is a monument to Black-Run America, a structure that thrusts into the Detroit sky, remaining a piercing reminder to the folly of the belief that equality is the natural state of man.
Even Dan Georgakas and Marvin Surkin’s “Detroit: I Do Mind Dying” (a study of urban revolution), a radically left-wing book, admits the failure of the Renaissance Center. On p. 199:

Strategies for reforming even local governments have also become more complex. Despite occasional victories and achievements, if one compares Detroit of the 1960s with Detroit of the 1990s, the city has deteriorated. Where once white neighbourhoods at the city’s rim surrounded a mainly black inner city, primarily white suburbs now surround a primarily black metropolis. The Renaissance Centre, widely heralded in the 1970s as the engine for revitalizing the city, has proven a disaster. 

From the onset, RenCen had remained viable on paper only because considerable staff from Ford headquarters in Dearborn had been transferred to fill its office space. Built at the cost of $350 million in the 1970s, RenCen sold in 1996 to the General Motors Company for $73 million. 

The failure of Detroit to revive and rebuild after the Great Rebellion in 1967 is often attributed to the mercurial mayoralty of Coleman Young or some lacking the city’s 80 percent black population. The explanation, however, lies elsewhere.

No, it doesn’t. It lies directly with the Black population of Detroit, and the federal government of the United States.
The answer to all of Detroit’s problems – post-1967 Black riot and the abandonment of the city by white people to be run by Black people – comes in the question found on page 200 of Wilbur Rich’s embarrassing hagiography of Mayor Young in “Coleman Young and Detroit Politics: From Social Activist to Power Broker.” It revolves around that wasteful project called The People Mover:

One of the most widely held and rarely articulated issues during the People Mover construction was, in fact, whether blacks were ready to manage and govern. Simply put, the question was whether or not blacks were competent enough to manage a multi-million dollar corporation – the city of Detroit. Somehow the question had not been answered sufficiently, and it needed to be put forth again, yet no seemed to be prepared to raise the real issue.  Silence was broken in a local newspaper interview, when U.S. District Court Judge John Feikens, a man with some liberal credentials, asserted that blacks need time “to learn how to run the city government.” He added that black people “talk about a problem and don’t know how to solve it.” 

No one has ever dared answer Judge Feikens. Indeed, modern American life requires that this question never be asked by anyone in any position of power.
The story of the rise, fall, and the federal government mandating GM stay in the Renaissance Center tells the tale of the tragedy of life – both physically, moral, and intellectual – in Black-Run America (BRA).
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