Berkey And Gay Project Gets A Major Tenant

June 5, 2002
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GRAND RAPIDS — More than 72,000 square feet of the garden and first floor levels of the Berkey & Gay apartment complex are now are under lease by the Grand Rapids Medical Education and Research Center.

The announcement of the lease came last week from Grubb & Ellis/Paramount.

The Berkey & Gay Building Loft Apartment/Rehabilitation Project, located at 940 Monroe Ave., is a $30 million restoration project transforming an old furniture factory into apartments and — now it turns out, as far as the lower levels are concerned — a school.

The center, often called by the acronym MERC, is a not-for-profit consortium whose major members are Spectrum Health, Michigan State University, Saint Mary's Mercy Medical center and Grand Valley State University.

The arrangement is a 10-year triple-net lease with two five-year options.

The rehabilitation project is being constructed and developed by Pioneer Incorporated. Tom Beckering, owner of Pioneer Incorporated and majority owner of 940 Monroe LLC, spearheaded the project. It is anticipated that some of the center's students will live right upstairs in the B&G apartments.

The Grubb & Ellis office specialist who arranged the lease, Carrie Masse, termed the rehabilitation project as something that "took incredible vision" on Beckering's part.

"The fact that he took on the risk of a completely speculative $30 million endeavor, as owner, developer and general contractor, and began without financing, shows how much he believed in this project," she said.  "I feel privileged to have worked on his team.

"This redevelopment is a huge success, as it has helped fill a strong need for housing in downtown Grand Rapids, as well as spurring on new life in a formerly depressed area."

Pioneer Incorporated is a major West Michigan contractor, operating with over 300 full-time employees, 25 fully staffed crews, 80-plus support vehicles, 10 cranes, 29 lifts and material handling equipment.

The firm has an engineering department, a construction advisor division and highly experienced Project Management Teams.

Masse termed the building well suited for the center, whose medical profession students will create a large need for the building's apartments.

"It was such a pleasure working with MERC," she said. "Everyone was on the same page and they clearly held a concern throughout the planning for whatever was best for their students and staff," said Masse.

The center's administrative director, Mark Iverson, said, "We will support the education, research and missions of the hospitals and universities in the Grand Rapids community."

He said the center seeks to integrate clinical research and the education of physicians with the training of physician assistants, nurses and other health professionals, so as to improve the health of the people of West Michigan.

"We want to stand out as a national model," added James Springer, M.D., the center's president and CEO.

As an affiliate of Grubb & Ellis Company (NYSE: GBE), one of the nation's largest commercial real estate services firms, Grubb & Ellis/Paramount serves West Michigan and its shoreline from Traverse City to Kalamazoo.

Through its offices, affiliates and global strategic alliance with Knight Frank, one of the leading property consulting firms in Europe and Asia, the firm provides a full range of real estate services, including advisory, management and consultative services, to users and investors worldwide.

Collectively, Grubb & Ellis has nearly 8,000 people in 200 offices in 27 countries serving 90 markets, including 34 affiliates.

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