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New owners acquire Southfield Centre, plan for spike in tenants

January 23, 2013

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Southfield Centre, the 15-story office building on Nine Mile, near Northwestern Highway, was acquired this month by a derivative of the Farbman Group. The building houses the regional IBM headquarters, medical groups and several other tenants, and the new management hopes for an increase in occupancy.

SOUTHFIELD — The Southfield Centre, the 15-story building that houses the Detroit IBM headquarters and other business tenants, is under new management.

Real Ventures Southfield Centre LLC, a derivative of the Farbman Group, announced Jan. 15 that it had acquired the recently renovated building at 18000 W. Nine Mile Road for an undisclosed price. It was previously owned by Franklin Street Properties, and president of the commercial real estate firm Andy Farbman said they have big plans for the space.

“We see tremendous growth potential and are preparing for a significant increase in occupancy,” he said in the announcement. “Southfield Centre’s prime location enables businesses to be minutes away from other major metropolitan areas, as well as downtown Detroit, while offering the conveniences discerning business operators have come to expect.”

The Farbman Group, based in Southfield, also is involved in the management of several office buildings in Detroit, such as the Fisher Building and Cadillac Tower. Around Southfield, it is behind the Riverside Center and Oakland Commons, according to Jennifer Cherry, who handles the group’s public relations.

Farbman said the building is at about 50 percent occupancy now, and the goal is to fill it to the max, as soon as possible.

“This space will go well with any high-density user, such as a call center, service center or anything that needs a significant amount of employees per square foot,” he said, adding that while the previous owners were “good owners,” the Farbman Group has an edge being able to add their “local flair.”

“We believe that, as local owners, we have an advantage in the marketplace,” he said. Pricing, deal structures and onsite events are some of what they have to offer competitively, he added.

The Southfield Centre is a Class A office property with 241,396 square feet of furnished space. It’s home to IBM’s regional office, Southfield’s Downtown Development Authority, several medical professionals and other tenants. A training and conference center, as well as a cafeteria, can also be found inside.

The Southfield Area Chamber of Commerce already utilizes the space for events such as its Entrepreneur Innovation Series, during which local business people can learn how to expand their ventures and network with others.

The chamber’s upcoming presentation by business coach Greg Peters will run 7:30-9 a.m. Feb. 6 at Southfield Centre, and Chamber President Tanya Markos-Vanno said it makes for the perfect atmosphere for such events.

“It is a beautiful officer center, modern and inviting,” she said. “The food at the café is good, and the conference room is perfect for educational seminars.”

The white, gray and silver building façade was designed by Gunnar Birkerts Architects in 1976 and absorbs and reflects sunlight and heat. By 1977, the building had won the Owens/Corning Energy Conservation award in the commercial category for its energy efficiency.

Recent renovations resulted in a refreshed lobby, more parking, and 24-hour security and onsite management.

Rochelle Freeman, Southfield’s business development manager, said that the Farbman Group has established a “strong track record of revitalizing buildings,” citing Riverside’s 200,000 square feet of office space.

“We’re very hopeful that they will be instrumental in turning around that property by attracting new tenants,” she said. “The Farbman Group is a large property owner in the community, and we trust that they will continue to keep this property well maintained like that of all their other properties.”

For more information on the Southfield Centre and available space, visit

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