While a spokesman for the automaker wouldn't confirm the JLLhire, he tells GlobeSt.com that there is a significant amount ofsurplus property that could be sold. "We will continue to exploreoptions to sell," he says. "Generally speaking, due to thecircumstances we are facing right now, we certainly want to look atmaximizing the company's liquidity position. We're in the midst ofwhat is arguably the worst financial crunch since World War II."The company reportedly could raise another $253 million by sellingproperties overseas, including a Saab plant in Sweden and GM'soffice on Sandyford Business Estate in Dublin.

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The firm recently divested its Oklahoma City assembly plant tothe city, which was able to give it over to Tinker Air Force Base,which will expand onto the site. He also says his company hopes tohave a deal closed by the end of the year to sell a former assemblyplant in Doraville, GA. "We're actively working that property," thespokesman says.

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He says early this year, the company paid off a $626 millionloan to own outright the headquarters complex, which was formerlyknown as the Renaissance Center, along the Detroit River. Thecompany spent more than $1 billion to renovate the Downtownlandmark, which includes four 39-story business towers, with GMoccupying three of them and the fourth leased as multitenant. Thecomplex is about 90% occupied, and includes a 70-story Marriotthotel tower.

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"We made it very clear…we would certainly explore options to tapinto the equity of the building, but there's nothing to reportyet," the spokesman says. The company made a presentation to theDetroit Fire and Police Pension Board two months ago, where an SLBfigure of just more than $500 million was brought out, but theboard "never really responded" to the presentation, the spokesmansays.

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However, most commercial real estate experts around Detroit saythere's no way any company can or will buy the RenCen in today'smarket, especially with Downtown office vacancy hovering around30%. Mark Woods, VP and managing director of operations atSignature Associates, has spent many years dealing with automakersover land, including 10 years as VP of Ford Motor Co.'s real estatesubsidiary, Ford Land. He tells GlobeSt.com he believes automakerexecutives are all "smart guys" who are suffering from the perfectstorm of financial, real estate and business climate collapse.

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"They're going to figure out a way to get through this cyclewith or without a government rescue, even if that means cuttingback to 15 million units, or whatever the volume is…there's justtoo much capacity. The business climate will get better," he says.When asked about selling the RenCen, he says he agrees with therest of the experts. "It won't happen," Woods says.

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A JLL spokeswoman tells GlobeSt.com that she cannot comment onany GM hire. The Chicago company has done work for GM before,including a 120,000-square-foot lease in March at Citigroup Centerin New York City. Also, in April, the automaker selected JLL with a2007 Supplier of the Year award.

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The automaker has recently admitted to the bankruptcyconsideration, but reportedly said the option just isn't viable, inpart because a filing would mean almost certain doom. Whereas manycompanies, even those with many properties such as Kmart, canrestructure after bankruptcy, the Big Three believe that consumerswill not buy a car from a company that files. Rod Anderson, apartner in Holland & Knight's bankruptcy practice in Tampa,says consumers will likely overreact if one of the Big Three has toadmit defeat. "Big players like the car companies need cash tofile, and no one is lending now anyway. If the filing affects yourproduct, you can lose everything before restructuring can happen.You need cash flow, and bankruptcy doesn't solve that," he tellsGlobeSt.com.

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On a positive note, if GM can sell a plant here or there,communities have had a good track record of turning these sitesaround, especially with help from the companies themselves. MidlinkBusiness Park, a former GM plant in Kalamazoo that was vacated in1999 and is now owned by Hackman Capital Partners, has leased upmost of the two-million-square-foot complex. "We only have about200,000 square feet left to lease," says Ron Kitchens, CEO ofSouthwest Michigan First. A 600,000-square-foot lease to KaiserAluminum early this year really helped, he says.

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"Our strategy was that we made a commitment five-to-six yearsago that we weren't going to participate in the state's downturn,"Kitchens says. His non-profit group has made 900 visits tocompanies to try to convince them to locate in the Kalamazoo area,though he says GM was a little difficult to get going on theMidlink site. "It's not their fault, they're in the car business,not the property business. It was a little slow getting them to payattention to our issues, we had to wade through a bureaucracy,"Kitchens tells GlobeSt.com.

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