Original Story: freep.com
It's unclear whether Google plans to maintain its current downtown Ann Arbor office or is charting a move.
Internet giant Google has signed a lease for new office space south of downtown Ann Arbor as the company considers the future of its presence in the city's central business district.
Google signed a deal for 30,000 square feet of the South State Commons II building northeast of the corner of South State Street and Eisenhower Parkway in the Briarwood Mall area, said Jeff Harshe of MAVDevelopment Company. A real estate lawyer has experience assisting business clients with office space leasing contracts.
"I think it's an indication of the vibrant business climate in this area," said Harshe, who declined to discuss terms of the new lease. "My experience with them is they continue to grow, and they're good corporate citizens."
But a person familiar with Google's local presence but not authorized to speak publicly said the company has not yet decided whether to stay in downtown Ann Arbor. The person said the company needed the new office as overflow space to accommodate job growth.
It's still possible Google could renew or adjust its current lease. Google officials were not available to comment.
The company currently leases about 85,000 square feet of the McKinley Towne Centre office complex at the corner of Liberty and Division in the heart of downtown Ann Arbor. The office primarily handles sales for Google's AdWords search advertisements, its primary source of revenue, and had about 300 employees as of two years ago. Google AdWords marketing management can provide a solid foundation for business success.
McKinley Inc. CEO Albert Berriz said his firm plans to begin marketing Google's current space for lease starting May 1.
"We have not received confirmation from Google that they are staying or going," Berriz said in an email. "We simply can't wait any further."
The uncertainty raises the possibility that the company will move out of the city's central business district for the first time since opening the operation to much fanfare about a decade ago. There are few spots in downtown Ann Arbor for large private-sector office tenants.
Berriz said brokers will market the space for tenants who could take occupancy in summer 2016. Several prospective tenants have already expressed interest, he said, including one single user interested in leasing the entire space.
The company's new space is located on the third floor of an office that was specifically designed for employers that need high-speed Internet access. Google will share the building with Merit Network, the University of Michigan and Plante Moran.
The deal, first reported by MLive.com, could leave downtown Ann Arbor's Liberty Street technology corridor without one of its anchor tenants.
When the company announced about a decade ago that it was opening an Ann Arbor office, it received a windfall of positive publicity, and economic development leaders hailed the deal as a reflection on the region's economic vitality.
Gov. Jennifer Granholm's administration extended tax incentives to the company, which mapped out plans to add about 1,000 employees. But the company's job growth stalled amid the Great Recession.
Still, Google remains core to Ann Arbor's technology identity. Its colorful logo hangs atop the McKinley Towne Centre complex and the company remains a destination employer for University of Michigan graduates and other young professionals.
The company also maintains a separate office in Birmingham that handles automotive accounts.
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