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As published by Kirk Pinho in Crain’s Detroit Business
In a move expected to eventually save Wayne County nearly $3 million annually, county Executive Warren Evans announced plans Wednesday to consolidate employees into the county-owned Guardian Building downtown.
According to a news release, the building at 500 Griswold St. is 25 percent vacant and county employees occupy less than 40 percent of its space.
Wayne County Clerk, Health & Human Services, Public Services and Children & Family Services department staff from 190,000 square feet at 640 Temple St. are expected to relocate into the Guardian Building. Another 18 locations totaling about 750,000 square feet are under review, according to the release.
Other county-owned facilities are less than 50 percent occupied.
Bloomfield Hills-based turnaround firm O’Keefe LLC reviewed the county’s portfolio of leased and owned properties pro bono and found what a report summary called “significant waste and a seemingly casual approach to leasing properties without utilizing the county’s owned real estate.”
Others under review are the Eloise Complex at 30712 Michigan Ave. in Westland and juvenile hall facilities on Forest Avenue in Detroit.
The O’Keefe summary said the Guardian Building, jails, courts, social service and storage facilities are “probably the best place to look for operational and functional efficiency improvements.”
The summary also said the Guardian Building, which the county purchased in 2008 from Detroit-based Sterling Group for $14.5 million, “probably never should have been purchased for its intended use by the county.”
O’Keefe recommends the Temple Street building be sold and another county-owned building at 511 Woodward Ave. downtown be redeveloped by an experienced developer.
The county is grappling with a $70 million budget deficit and pension funds that are $850 million underfunded.
According to the report summary, the county’s current rental costs at the 18 properties under review are $8.8 million annually.