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Bloomfield Hills

June 12, 2013

Bloomfield Hills will move on without Pulte, local leaders say

By Tiffany Esshaki
C & G Staff Writer

BLOOMFIELD HILLS  —  It’s sad, but we’ll be fine.

That’s what many in the city are saying in the wake of the PulteGroup announcement last week that the company plans to relocate its corporate headquarters from the Bloomfield Hills to Atlanta, Ga. 

According to a press release issued by PulteGroup May 31, the homebuilding corporation has decided move to be closer to the majority of its revenue base, with 92 percent of its business investments located outside of Michigan and Midwest markets during 2012. When the company moves in 2014, it will take more than 300 jobs from the Bloomfield Hills area.

“By announcing the decision a year in advance, we can work more closely with each employee and help facilitate an easier transition and more seamless relocation to a new facility,” said James Ellinghausen, executive vice president of human resources with PulteGroup, in the statement. “It is too early to determine how many employees will ultimately assume positions in Georgia, but for those individuals who do not relocate, we will offer a very fair severance package and related outplacement services to help locate a new position in Michigan as the surrounding economy continues to improve.”

Many around southeastern Michigan have lamented losing the company, which has grown into one of the largest builders in the country since its inception in the 1950s and serves more than 55 markets nationwide. Detroit business mogul and founder of Quicken Loans, Dan Gilbert, and Oakland County Executive L. Brooks Patterson, have both expressed their disappointment publically. Even members of the Pulte family, which cut ties with the company when founder William Pulte retired in 2010, reportedly said they were surprised by the move.

But in Bloomfield Hills, the mood is a little more hopeful. Mayor Sarah McClure said that while she and others in the city are sorry to see the company go, she said she doesn’t expect the loss to impact the city financially.

“Although we love the companies that are within our city, I think we’re more defined by our residential community. We did just get our AAA bond rating, and the city is doing well. Our property values went up the second most in the entire county (this year),” said McClure.

She said it’s her understanding that the space PulteGroup occupied on Bloomfield Hills Parkway, just off of Woodward Avenue, was leased to the company. The property owner is expected to continue paying taxes on the space. She added that the only revenue the city stands to lose would be from personal property taxes while the space remains vacant.

“We only collect about $200,000 in personal property tax, which is taxes on office equipment. … We’re not a community like Warren that generates a bulk of its revenue from personal property tax,” she said. “I think it will be more of an impact at the state level.”

Joe Bauman, president of the Birmingham-Bloomfield Chamber, said he, too, is saddened by the decision, but can’t blame the corporation for wanting to focus its efforts on where the majority of its business is located.

“You never want to lose a nationally recognized brand. It brings prestige to the county, and certainly the Birmingham-Bloomfield area. But they’re a lot different from where they started, and it makes sense for them to relocate, from a corporate standpoint. Atlanta is a growth area for new construction,” he said. “But there’s still deep roots (here) that you hate to see get lost.”

You can reach C & G Staff Writer Tiffany Esshaki at tesshaki@candgnews.com or at (586)498-1095.