The Grandville Office Sector Is Growing And Quickly

May 28, 2002
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GRANDVILLE — Retail isn’t the only growing real estate sector in this city. The office market in Grandville also has evolved.

According to the Building Owners and Managers Association’s latest survey, office space in the city has grown by 13 percent, or 85,000 square feet, in the last two years. The sector now has four new buildings and nearly 595,000 total square feet.

But, perhaps, what is more remarkable than the growth is that the market has managed to retain its occupancy after the space was built. The Grandville rate still stands at 94 percent, which is one of the metro area’s highest.

In fact, only two of the 12 other markets in the BOMA report had more filled space, and both are traditional office sites that had occupancy rates of 97 percent last year.

According to Grandville Assistant City Manager Dan Johnson, a number of factors have helped the office sector expand, most notably along Rivertown Parkway and 44th Street. And that growth didn’t happen through sheer luck; it was planned and directed by the city.

First, there was the general population growth that occurred over the past decade in the southwest corridor, which extends west from Grandville to Holland.

For example, the latest U. S. Census Bureau figures showed that Georgetown Township grew by 27.5 percent, while Zeeland and Holland townships grew by 70 and 65 percent, respectively. Grandville grew by a respectable 4 percent.

“We’re getting a lot more development along here. We had the residential and now we’re getting some of the accessory uses related to the residential: doctors’ offices, attorneys’ offices, those sorts of services to serve those people,” said Johnson.

Another factor was the retail growth led by General Growth Properties, the development company that built the $150 million RiverTown Crossings Mall.

The stores were located far enough south of the residential area to allow the city to create a buffer zone between the retail shops and the residents’ homes.

“Our planning commission wanted to have a less-intensive commercial buffer zone in there and office is a good buffer. It is a good balance between non-residential uses, but it’s also not a commercial use,” said Johnson.

“A professional office is normally an 8 to 5 business. Again, it’s not residential, but it’s not a commercial use that may be open from 10 until 10 six days a week, and six or seven hours on a Sunday. With an office you have less traffic than you would have with a store.”

City planners saw that offices, banks, small restaurants and even hotels would ably fill that buffer zone. So Grandville came up with a new master plan for that area, one that has two zoning designations for the section: OS-1 and OS-2. Office buildings are granted approval under the OS-1 rules, while the ancillary businesses that cater to the tenants are approved under OS-2, or Planned Office Service.

“So far, the plan is working. We have a lot of businesses that want to be here. A lot of restaurants, a lot of commercial uses and the Planning Commission has held to the master plan,” said Johnson.

A good example of how the plan and the zoning work is that a restaurant initially applied to build across the street from a single-family condominium. Planners said that was too close to the homes, and directed the developers a few streets away into the OS-2 area.

“They eventually found some land that met the special land use requirement and now they’re open for business,” said Johnson.

For the record, the Grandville office district includes portions of 28th Street, Chicago Drive, and Prairie, Fairlane, Canal, Wilson and Ivanrest avenues, along with Rivertown Parkway and 44th Street. And there still is some more land zoned for office and office service available, about 60 acres’ worth.

“We have a bit of property that has recently been zoned office,” said Johnson. “Now we’re at the point where people will be coming in for site plan reviews and special land uses to do some of that actual office development.

“There are some people looking at putting up some banks and just some general office buildings.”

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