DETROIT – General Motors’ place in downtown Detroit appears safe, at least for now.

A week ago, GM’s Renaissance Center headquarters was on the so-called “old company” list of GM assets to be disposed of in bankruptcy, according to people familiar with the situation.

Following a wave of phone calls by Detroit and Michigan officials expressing concern over the symbolic significance of GM remaining in the RenCen, Chief Executive Officer Fritz Henderson sent word Thursday to Detroit Mayor Dave Bing, Wayne County Executive Robert Ficano and other key political leaders that they should do whatever possible to help make the RenCen a more competitive site for GM headquarters.

After the subsequent frantic phone calls, letters and tax incentives being offered from two different cities, GM said Sunday it’s got much more on its plate than thinking about moving its world headquarters from the 73-story glass-and-steel towers at the Renaissance Center.

“Everything is on the table as we are going through this reinvention of the company, but right now a decision on where we locate our headquarters . . . is just not a priority,” Tom Wilkinson, a GM spokesman, said Sunday.

Henderson called Detroit and Wayne County elected officials Saturday and Sunday to talk about the company’s plans.

“Executive Ficano had a very positive conversation with Fritz Henderson this morning,” Vanessa Denha-Garmo, spokeswoman for Ficano, said Sunday. “However, any official announcement of where GM’s headquarters will be will have to come from them.”

Detroit Mayor Dave Bing also spoke with Henderson over the weekend, said his spokeswoman Meagan Pitts, and has been in contact with White House officials about GM’s impending bankruptcy.

“They’ve been very progressive conversations,” Pitts said. “But it’s not up to us to put any news out there.”

Ficano and Bing offered a tax incentive package to the automaker during the Mackinac Policy Conference last week.

The proposal could end up saving GM up to $25 million a year by designating the Renaissance Center as a renaissance zone, which would put 2.2 million square feet of space in the RenCen’s four main towers plus the Detroit Marriott Hotel into the city’s last remaining renaissance zone. The designation provides incentives that include waiver of city income and utility taxes, most city and county property tax, plus state income tax or business taxes.

The proposal came in response to entreaties by Warren Mayor Jim Fouts to lure GM’s headquarters to the company’s Tech Center in Warren. His proposal would give GM a 30-year break on personal property taxes and a 12-year, 50 percent cut in general property taxes.

Fouts said Sunday that all he ever wanted was to make sure that GM survived, wherever its headquarters landed.

“Saving GM and thousands of metro Detroiters’ jobs has always been my stated goal,” he said. “I just hope that the tremendous political pressure from the state’s political power structure has not forced them to make a decision that they would not otherwise make.”


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