DETROIT—Downtown Detroit has attracted a great deal of attention lately as companies like Quicken Loans buy up historic but underused structures and pack them with their employees. But the suburbs, which took a big hit when the economy crashed and nearly took down the US auto industry, have also started to show signs of life.

New York-based 601W Cos., for example, recently decided to take a chance on the area and plunked down $177.5 million for the Southfield Town Center in Southfield, MI, perhaps the most visible property outside the city. As reported in, the company plans to spend around $40 or $50 million on upgrades to the property, and has retained Transwestern to lease and manage the 2.2-million-square-foot, five-building office complex.

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