Saab Cars North America Eyes New HQ In Royal Oak, MI

Posted on 09. Oct, 2009 by in 2000-2009, Royal Oak, Michigan

Photo Credits: Oakland Press & Biddison Architecture

The Oakland Press in Royal Oak, Michigan has recently published an article where they interviewed the region’s planning director Tim Thwing about Saab Cars North America’s (SCNA) new headquarters in the United States.

According to the article, it states that the new office, if the approval takes place on October 19th, could quite possibly be at 4327 Delemere Court, Royal Oak, Michigan. This location includes a recently renovated 13,000 s.f. single story grey brick building with offices for 50 people housing sales and marketing functions and access for test vehicles with a large overhead door as shown above. The new facility would include a five year lease from Ronnisch Construction, the owners of the facility who would plan on re-occupying it once the lease ends. The idea would presumably be once Saab is completely independent from GM over those five years, they would be able to relocate back to New England.

Here’s a quote from Biddison Architecture about what Ronnisch Construction invisioned with this redesign of their facility:

“A vacant 1960’s industrial building is given life as the new headquarters of the Ronnisch Construction Group. This young, interactive construction management company envisioned a work environment that reflected not only those qualities, but also their sense of craftsmanship and attention to detail.

Ronnisch desired a space that would pull you into the energy of who they are and what they call “The Ronnisch Way”. The design attempts to create a visual and physical layering of spaces, materials and functions. This integration of public and private spaces allows everyone to feel and experience the energy of this dynamic company no matter what your job description or reason for visiting.”


4327 Delemere Court, Royal Oak, Michigan

The article also says that SCNA is also considering an alternative location in Connecticut? With the top spot in the Saab History poll indicating low tax Portsmouth, New Hampshire, it would seem clear that this location is the most ideal location at 2 International Drive at the Pease International Tradeport.

I am very interested in seeing this process unravel.

Here’s the article below:

Published: Thursday, October 8, 2009

Of Journal Register News Service

Saab eyes Royal Oak for U.S. headquarters

Saab Cars North America is asking for a tax break if it moves its national headquarters from the Renaissance Center in Detroit to a building on Delemere Court in Royal Oak.

General Motors, the parent company of the Swedish-based subsidiary “born from jets” will stop funding the unit Dec. 31. Saab is up for sale and on the lookout for a site to base its operations.

“Royal Oak seems to fit our customer demographics,” Saab spokeswoman Nicole Jankowski said. “Royal Oak is a trendy place.”

Saab plans to invest about $2.2 million in Royal Oak’s north end or alternative sites in Connecticut that are under consideration. Saab had its U.S. headquarters in New Haven and Orange, Conn., for 30 years before relocating to Norcross, Ga., in 1992 and then Detroit in 2004.

Saab needs the tax abatement for new capital investment to help justify a Michigan-based headquarters, said Mike Colleran, president and chief operating officer of Saab Cars USA, in a letter to Royal Oak officials.

The $2.2 million investment would be made over a five-year period to establish and maintain a U.S. headquarters operation consisting mostly of sales and marketing functions, according to the Sept. 29 letter.

The office would employ about 50 people, said Royal Oak’s Planning Director Tim Thwing, but he didn’t know if any of the jobs will be newly created.

“They have had cutbacks,” Thwing said. It could be a retention of positions that weren’t eliminated

Jankowski said Saab could be hiring when it relocates but she couldn’t elaborate.

Saab filed for bankruptcy protection in February so it could be spun off or sold by its ailing parent company. It is poised to become an independent business entity on Jan. 1.

A one-story, gray brick building at 4327 Delemere Court near Normandy and Coolidge could become the next base for Saab Cars USA. Ronnisch Construction Group, the current tenant, is leaving the site near the mechanical contractor JB Cain Co. and the equipment supplier JP Lann Golf.

“The building fits their needs”, Thwing said. It has been fixed up, it has offices, and it has an overhead door that Saab can use for testing vehicles.

Saab is seeking a tax break that would apply to the full value of the personal property for up to 12 years. The company notified the Michigan Economic Development Corporation its personal property would be worth $897,000.

To grant the request, Royal Oak would have to create an industrial development district for Saab to apply for the abatement under Michigan’s General Property Tax Act.

“I would recommend the length of the abatement be tied to the lease,” Thwing said.

Royal Oak has created three industrial development districts since 2005, when a policy against the practice once viewed as corporate welfare was set aside for Metaldyne Corp., which became Form Tech.

In 2008, a district was created for Liberty Center, and this year Flex-N-Gate was approved.

The latest request is different, however. In the past, Royal Oak exempted half of the existing tax rates applied to the value of new personal property. Saab is seeking abatement for all new personal property allowed under an amendment to the state act.

The City Commission set a public hearing for Oct. 19 to hear arguments for and against Saab’s request. The benefits are obvious to Thwing.

“We all want to see vacant buildings filled and jobs stay in Michigan,” he said.


Published: Thursday, October 9, 2009

Building renovation wows Saab

Ronnisch might move, but won’t sell its office.

ROYAL OAK With the office of Ronnisch Construction Group in the running for the next Saab Cars USA headquarters, vendors are wondering about the future of the general contractor.

“We’re not closing,” said Janet Gekiere, business development and marketing manager for Ronnisch. “Our company is still strong.”

The builder of banks, stores, schools and manufacturing operations moved into a renovated industrial site at 4327 Delemere Court about three years ago. Since then, real estate brokers have been taking clients through the estimated 13,000-square-foot space to show how older, abandoned buildings can be turned into modern, tasteful workplaces, Gekiere said.

“When the broker showed Saab our building, they loved it and asked about leasing our space,” she said.

Ronnisch owns the one-story, gray brick building that was transformed from a concrete shell to a contemporary commercial space. It has exposed ceilings, open common areas and private offices with maple wood, perforated steel accents and port hole windows. An enclosed conference room off the entrance is a centerpiece of the office.

“It definitely went from beast to beauty,” Gekiere said. “Now it’s functional and pleasing but not overdone.”

Kevin Biddison of Biddison Architecture, Royal Oak, redesigned the 1960s structure.

“It’s a high-energy building and it sounds like it has the aesthetics Saab’s looking for,” Biddison said.

Ronnisch used to fill most of the building but has downsized. If the city approves a tax abatement for Saab and the automaker works out a lease deal with Ronnisch, the construction firm will relocate to a smaller space somewhere else in the area, Gekiere said.

“From our perspective, we see it as a win-win situation to keep Saab here and to put us into a more size-appropriate building while retaining this one,” Gekiere said.

If the tax break isn’t granted or a lease deal can’t be reached, Ronnisch will stay at the location.

“We haven’t died on the vine,” Gekiere said of the 15-year-old company that built the addition at Holiday Market, Royal Oak, and constructed a new headquarters for Michigan First Credit Union, Lathrup Village.

Ronnisch is weathering the recession because of its solid relationship with state and national businesses that keep coming back, Gekiere said. The company, which also has offices in Charleston, S.C., has built 44 Rite Aids, 15 Home Depots, five Dunkin’ Donuts and three Aldi’s.

“Repeat clients are sustaining us,” Gekiere said. “That and smart decisions like being open to move as a creative way to cut overhead. We love our space. We built it to be here forever. We wouldn’t sell it because we’d eventually hope to come back to it.”

The city scheduled an Oct. 19 public hearing for Saab’s request for a tax abatement on the full value of its personal property, which would be worth about $897,000, according to the Michigan Economic Development Corporation.

A subsidiary of General Motors, Saab is poised to break away from its parent company and become an independent business entity on Jan. 1, 2010. Saab and about 50 employees no longer will need to be based at GM’s headquarters at the Renaissance Center, Detroit.

Saab is looking for its next U.S. headquarters. It plans to invest a total of $2.2 million into the Royal Oak building if it is selected. One or two sites in Connecticut also are under consideration.

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7 Responses to “Saab Cars North America Eyes New HQ In Royal Oak, MI”

  1. Tom Nelson

    09. Oct, 2009

    This announcement is interesting to me as I lived in Royal Oak, MI back in the early 1960’s when I worked at the GM Tech Center. Has the city changed it’s name to Royal Oaks? Maybe the oak(s) have multiplied in 50 years?

    Also I see a confusion factor developing if the new company uses Saab Cars North America (SCNA) for it’s HQ name in Royal Oak. We have used SCNA as the acronym for Saab Club of North America for many years.

    But it does make sense for the new SAAB headquarters to have it’s location close to GM in the transition to independence.

    Reply to this comment
  2. Mike Parahus

    09. Oct, 2009

    While I agree there is a lot of common sense to wanting to be close to GM during the start up and changeover……boy, one would sure think they would want to get the hell out of Dodge and distance themselves from what brought the company to it’s knees in the first place!
    I’d say to get back to it’s roots and make a statement they are a new company….on their own…..get out of town. Move somewhere else and make a statement by doing so in saying….the GM era is over…..Saab is on its own again, plus from a hiring standpoint I’d think they would want to get talent from the European sector…..not domestic as that is what led to their errosion in market share in the first place.

    Start anew will ya!!!!!

    Reply to this comment
  3. Bill Wolf

    09. Oct, 2009

    The design kind of looks like one of those new Maximum Security Federal Penitentiaries.

    Any connection?

    Reply to this comment
  4. fred diesel

    13. Oct, 2009

    I dunno….SCNA is going to go back to being an importer. Their parts are in Allentown PA. Main ports are Newark and Baltimore. Any of those places makes more sense than MI.

    Reply to this comment
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    29. Apr, 2013

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  1. | Business info - October 10, 2009

    […] The rest is here: Saab Cars North America Eyes New HQ In Royal Oak, MI […]

  2. » Blog Archive » Saab pondering Detroit suburb for new U.S. headquarters? - October 12, 2009

    […] Filed under: Saab Having concluded the relationship with its former sugar daddy, GM, Saab is scouting locations for its new corporate headquarters to make a fresh start. According to one report, that location could be Royal Oak, Michigan, about fifteen miles from Detroit. Saab apparently has $2.2 million to invest in a new HQ over the next five years, where it plans to house “mostly sales and marketing functions.” The building in question is 13,000 square feet and boasts the few amenities necessary to Saab’s situation: offices for 50 people and a large garage. A Saab spokeswoman said Royal Oak is “trendy” and fits “our customer demographics.” Finalizing the deal looks to rest on Royal Oak providing tax abatement, which hasn’t been decided yet. Even if the city does give Saab some help moving in, the longer-term story is Saab’s possible return to New England: the company began in Connecticut when it first came to U.S. shores. And with other upmarket European brands having decided that the Midwest simply didn’t cut it, it wouldn’t be a surprise. [Source: Saab History]Saab pondering Detroit suburb for new U.S. headquarters? originally appeared on Autoblog on Mon, 12 Oct 2009 08:58:00 EST. Please see our terms for use of feeds.Read | Permalink | Email this | Comments […]

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