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March 6, 2013

Fouts: Campbell Ewald wanted ‘downtown atmosphere’

Mayor says he’s ‘optimistic’ about future of company’s property in Warren

By Brian Louwers
C & G Staff Writer

WARREN — Mayor Jim Fouts said the city of Warren offered “whatever we could” to keep advertising agency Campbell Ewald happy in its office tower near 13 Mile and Van Dyke.

But in the end, the mayor said he was told the company’s decision to leave its Warren offices for available space next to Detroit’s Ford Field was “cultural.”

Fouts said he met with Campbell Ewald CFO Joe Naporano March 6 ahead of a scheduled afternoon press conference at the former J.L. Hudson Warehouse on Brush that will become the company’s new headquarters. 

“He said money was not the consideration. He said what was the consideration was cultural,” Fouts said. “They have a lot of creative people. They want to be near the Tigers’ stadium and Ford Field. They wanted that downtown atmosphere that we couldn’t offer.”

The mayor said he was “blindsided” when word of Campbell Ewald’s decision to leave Warren leaked March 5 but that he was  “somewhat optimistic” about the future of the company’s property in Warren after meeting with Naporano. 

Fouts remained hopeful that the city, working with Campbell Ewald, could lure a “blue chip” company to the 10-story tower with 150,000 square feet of office space, where more than 700 people are currently employed.

Fouts said company officials had expressed some concern in the past about the size of their Warren office building and its age. The building was constructed in the early 1970s and remains owned by Campbell Ewald.

“At their request we reevaluated their tax situation,” Fouts said, adding that City Assessor Marcia Smith had decreased the company’s true-cash assessment by $3 million.

According to the Warren Assessing Department, Campbell Ewald owns four parcels at Van Dyke and Kennedy Circle, just south of Old 13 Mile Road and directly across from the General Motors Technical Center. The four parcels total 9.72 acres, including the 5.43-acre site with the office tower. Two parcels were identified as parking space, and one parcel remains undeveloped.

The company paid a total of $201,559.58 in summer and winter taxes last year, according to electronic records kept by Warren City Treasurer Carolyn Kurkowski Moceri’s office.

Fouts pointed to looming developments along Van Dyke, including a new Wal-Mart “super store” at the mostly-vacant Tech Plaza shopping Center on 12 Mile Road south of Campbell Ewald, and a new Menards home improvement store north of 13 Mile. He also mentioned millions in planned investments by General Motors Co. and Chrysler Group LLC that he said would bring hundreds of jobs to the city. 

“I think we’ve got a lot of development in Warren, “ Fouts said. “I wish they (Campbell Ewald) would have had a little patience.” 

According to their website, Campbell Ewald was founded in 1911 and remained privately held until it joined the Interpublic Group of Companies in 1972.

The company identifies itself as one of the top 25 advertising and digital communications agencies in the United States. They boast a broad range of government and business clients including the U.S. Postal Service, AT&T, MotorCity Casino Hotel and the U.S. Navy.

Further details about the company’s move were expected to be announced at a press conference scheduled for 1:45 p.m. March 6 at the former J.L. Hudson Warehouse site it Detroit.

You can reach C & G Staff Writer Brian Louwers at brianlouwers@candgnews.com or at (586)498-1089.