With an ample supply of empty office space in metro Detroit, why would a nonprofit organization build a $17.5-million headquarters in Farmington Hills?
“We’re not making an architectural statement; we simply couldn’t find an office building that fit our needs,” says Jane McNamara, president and CEO of GreenPath Debt Solutions, a nonprofit financial literacy and counseling organization. With 42 branch offices in seven states, GreenPath recorded $46.7 million in revenue last year, up from $8.9 million in 1996.
Although she conducted a two-year search for an existing office building that could house 450 employees — and had room to accommodate another 150 workers in the future — McNamara came up short. “We’re combining our administrative headquarters with a national call center, and we needed six parking spaces per 1,000 square feet (of office space). Most buildings offer three parking spots for that amount of space,” McNamara says. “Plus, we wanted to add the latest technology.”
A drive to expand nationally, which will require more administrative managers, also contributed to the building effort. Set to open next spring, the four-story, 125,000-square-foot facility was designed by Harley Ellis Devereaux in Southfield.
Rising bankruptcies and mortgage foreclosures have contributed to GreenPath’s growth in recent years. New credit card laws, along with financial regulatory changes, will require more specialized workers, McNamara adds.
“Our goal is to teach people how to properly manage their money — whether they’re facing financial difficulty, or are returning from active military duty and need planning assistance,” she says.