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Global advertising company WPP to move 1,000 employees into Marquette Building

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The currently vacant building downtown will also get a nearly $20 million renovation

First few floors of a brick building. There’s a black awning and two flags over the entrance. The building is surrounded by lots of foot and car traffic.
Rendering of the renovated Marquette Building.

The world’s largest advertising company, London-based WPP, announced that it will move up to 1,000 employees into the vacant Marquette Building at 243 W. Congress Street.

The international advertising and public relations firm works with and near Ford in Dearborn, where it has an office of 850 employees at Corporate Crossings at Fairlane. In addition to moving those employees, WPP will add another 182 to the downtown Detroit building, where will lease 150,000 square feet across nine floors.

The Marquette Building was bought by Detroit-based Sterling Group for $10 million last year. A nearly $20 million renovation is expected to be done by the end of 2020. WPP-owned BDG Architecture + Design will design the interior office space.

According to Crain’s Detroit Business, the Michigan Strategic Fund (MSF) approved a $1.65 million Michigan Business Development Program grant for the WPP move. A MSF board memo also obtained by Crain’s stated that the city of Detroit may provide a 10-year tax abatement worth $993,000.

In 2016, auto supplier Adient announced that it would invest $75 million into the acquisition and renovation of the Marquette Building for its new world headquarters. But those plans were halted in 2018 after it reported major financial losses.

Built in 1905, the Marquette Building is one of Detroit’s older skyscrapers. It was designed Detroit-based architecture firm Rogers & MacFarlane originally as a cold storage building, but was converted into an office building in the 1910s.