Unified Rockford Buy Blues Site

May 21, 2004
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KENTWOOD — Unified Title & Settlement and the Rockford Development Group agreed last week to buy the soon-to-be former headquarters of Blue Cross Blue Shield of West Michigan.

The price and terms of the transaction were not revealed, and the closing is expected to take place later this summer.

S.J. Wisinski & Co., the region’s largest commercial real estate firm, brokered the deal.

“Like many other buyers, Unified Title has decided to take advantage of the low interest rates by owning their own building,” said Randy Bronkema, vice president with S.J. Wisinski.

Bronkema added that Unified Title will make the three-story building its new corporate home, moving from 3777 Sparks Drive SE. The title company plans to occupy at least the third floor, and maybe more space, in the 40,500-square-foot building located on 14 acres at 5540 Glenwood Hills Parkway SE, and then either sell or lease the unused space.

“The superior location and great visibility from 28th Street and I-96 make this location perfect for their new corporate offices,” said Bronkema, who is marketing the space that Unified won’t use in the structure.

Unified Title and parent firm Unified Solutions Group LLC are both based in Grand Rapids and are moving to the building in October, along with Unified Contract Services and Unified Information Services. Eight other Unified departments, including the National Title & Escrow unit, will join those there later this year.

The privately held company has had tremendous growth over the past few years.

“By providing great service, we’ve grown to be the largest independent title company in West Michigan,” said David Kuritar, president of Unified Solutions Group.

Last July, Unified bought the fifth floor of the Goodspeed Building at 190 Monroe NW and moved its commercial division there. Three days after Unified closed on that deal the company opened another office on Cascade Road SE. Unified will remain at those sites.

The Unified divisions have 140 employees across West Michigan with six offices in the metro area and others in Portage, Holland, Muskegon, and Traverse City.

Unified, which was formed less than three years ago by Kuritar and Michael Weightman, also has an office in Troy.

Blue Cross Blue Shield is transferring its regional office to 86 Monroe Center, the former Steketee’s Department Store building. More than 250 employees are expected to be in the eight-story, 85,000-square-foot structure in September.

Monroe Center JV LLC, which includes Rockford Development, owns Steketee’s.

Rockford acquired the Blues building last year as part of the 10-year lease, which has a purchase option that the health insurer signed with Monroe Center JV. Now Rockford and Unified own equal shares of the building.

The Rockford Development Group is a division of the Rockford Companies, which has offices in downtown Grand Rapids and Belmont.           

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