The neighborhood known as “New Center” (named in part as an optimistic effort to replace the city’s ailing downtown) was once best known for its most famous resident, General Motors.
The twin towers of GM’s corporate headquarters housed thousands of workers; for decades, its lavish first-floor showrooms were filled year-round with the latest models, hot off the drawing boards located in the upstairs offices.
Much to the chagrin of GM’s employees and executives, the corporate headquarters were surrounded by a once-fine neighborhood that had become seedy and derelict. With the clout and bankroll to pull off what few other companies in the world could at the time, GM spent millions upon millions buying, rehabbing, and reselling the old homes in the surrounding neighborhood—redubbed New Center.
The idea was to spruce up the company’s surroundings, draw its employees and other middle- and upper-income families back downtown, and, hopefully, spur more area redevelopment.
The New Center neighborhood looks pretty good, though GM ended up leaving New Center and moving downtown to the RenCen  in 1999. Since then, the GM building (as it’s still known by most Detroiters) has struggled to attract tenants. Among those who have moved in are local health care offices and the state of Michigan.